With costs exceed $20 million dollars to produce games for the next-generation, publishers a looking at every avenue to defray costs, from producing cheap multi-platform ports, to sequels, to charging for updates. But my question is, with the slow growth for this next-gen of gaming, why aren’t publishers putting the effort into handhelds?
Square Enix chief executive Yoichi Wada is committing his company to the handheld market for the year. He responds to the demographics of the massively dominate Unintended DS. and criticizes the PS3 and Xbox 360 for being too complex.
“There are too many specs – and you also need a high-definition TV, a broadband connection and a deep knowledge of gaming – these consoles are mismatched to today’s environment. In a year or two years they will fare better,” says Wada.
Square Enix plans to put one of its flagship series’ next installments, Dragon Quest IX, on the DS.
Other publishers may follow Square Enix’s example. The gaming industry has enjoyed the console dominance in the PS2 that provided detailed, 3D worlds compared to the pale colored sprites of Gameboy games. But this generation of handhelds provide unique gaming experiences without sacrificing graphics and gameplay.
Unfortunately, game developers do not seem to put their best work on the handhelds. The PSP receives an army of poor console ports while the DS enjoys more mini-games and causal gamer experiences than it does Pokemon spin-offs. In fact, not since Pokemon has there been a successful handheld only franchise.
The DS has more than 35 million units sold. The PSP numbers over 25 million. Both challenge the less than 25 million consoles sold. That includes the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Handheld games cost less to make and have a larger, more diverse audience than consoles. Upcoming God of War and Final Fantasy spin-offs are good starts, but it’s questionable the innovation they offer being products of the console generation. Just think how much Pokemon console games suck.
But maybe us hardcore gamers, developers included, are still glued to our television sets. I know I am.