2011
12.30

Gaming has taken many forms over the years. Of course there were the first games, made of physical objects. Dominoes, dice, and board games all fall into this category. Later, gaming hopped onto computers and played its way through computers, handheld devices, and dedicated gaming consoles hooked up to our TVs. Now, games are present on our phones, and some people believe that may be where they are most likely to stay.

The success of mobile apps such as Angry Birds and Farmville show that people will spend a lot of time playing a game on their smartphones. This might cut down the time they could be playing on a console or portable device. And a game like Angry Birds is much cheaper to purchase than a game for a traditional console system. Plus, your phone is always with you, bringing all your games along to the dentist’s office, your in-laws’ house, or even the office.

A survey by research firm Zokem showed almost 60% of smartphone users played games on their mobiles on a monthly basis. That’s quite a lot of gaming. And with smartphones’ ubiquitous connection to the Internet, new games are always a touch away.

Traditional gaming consoles are getting connected as well, and there will no doubt always be a market for this type of gaming, especially among people who are heavily invested in specific games, or who enjoy the controller-free gaming style of products like Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. But there are also a lot of people who will likely decide a phone with games is all they need.

One type of gaming device that may face an uphill battle is the portable gaming console. Products like the soon-to-be-released Sony PlayStation Vita could see their niche of mobile gaming encroached on as phones continue to improve their graphics and user experience for gaming.

Forbes has reported the Vita had somewhat disappointing sales when it launched in Japan. Are people concluding they don’t need a portable gaming device when they have a smartphone? It sure seems that way.

When you see that you can pre-order the Vita on Amazon.com for $250, and then you think about how you can download new games for your smartphone for around a buck a pop, the economics are hard to ignore. But we’ll see what happens when Vita is released on February 22. Perhaps the gamers will prove me wrong.

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