Posted by insanejedi (654 posts) -

A few years ago, a lof of us who are heavily invested into the game industry thought that there is no way that mobile cellphone games could ever replace something like the Nintendo DS or the PSP. Unfortunately whether that's true or not, it's increasingly becoming evident that people like us who care about tactile responsive controls more than convenience of a single device are falling by the way side.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some awesome Android/IOS games that are definitely worth playing like World of Goo, Myst, and Puzzle Quest 2 have all the depth that a lot of us are looking for in games, yet feature controls that make sense and are not dependent on exact responsive movements. Although the reason why many of these games work is because they were primarily designed as games you can play with a mouse with one button; take Myst for Example.

Click click click

With the falling out of the PSV and the 3DS, it might seem like a very dark road for anyone who would enjoy a great platformer like Braid, VVVVVV, or Mario and have to face it on a completely unresponsive and unrealiable for gaming touch screen. Some people have had a go and fixing this by launching stuff like the Playstation Phone, or an Ipad with physical buttons that attach to the device, but all these solutions have a single fatal flaw which is software support for these devices. The Playstation Phone only supports a couple of games, and I have yet to see anyone support these dumb IOS physical control peripherals. That and the third party devices are usually too bulky and impractical to use.

But there is a solution, and it may lie in Windows 8...

Now before you hit the back button to look at some kittens on the forums or hit reply and say "OH MY GOD WINDOWS 8 IS GARBAGE!" take a look at the picture and video below.

That is the Razer switchblade, it's a concept device much like a concept car that never really came to full production, but they have full working prototypes that play games like WoW or Dota 2 with these fancy display keys that change depending on what kind of gaming your playing. It features a 7 inch screen with full multi-touch screen support. This is all great in concept, but much like those peripherals and the Playstation Phone above, the key problem is who is going to support this stuff for a small hardware company like Razor? Not only that but the Windows 7 OS wasn't designed with touch. Now look at the picture below.

Now imagine if those display keys on the bottom are replaced with an Xbox 360 Controller like below. I think you know where this is going...

If you caught on now, you would realize that there are many many PC games that support the 360 Controller, Bastion, Skyrim, Braid, Dirt 3, Crysis, Saints Row, GTA 4, and on and on and on. Now Windows 8 on X86 makes it easier to navigate with a touch screen, but most importantly it is able to play all these games. The best part is that all of these games needs little to no patching because they already have support for 360 game pad controls! So if you released a concept like the Razor Switchblade on Windows 8, it would not only have hundreds of games supported on day one, but It's also a full OS tablet! That you can use for all sorts of things like word processing, web browsing, watching movies, or sending emails.

I realize there are several factors to look at such as battery life, where you get CPU's and GPU's that do the power without having too much heat or killing the battery, and how small the device can be. But At least Razer has proved that it can work with the Razer Switchblade and that was launched in 2011. Chips have advanced during that time and this concept becomes more and more possible. So if you are like me and find most of the mobile games wanting, there is very much light at the end of the tunnel. It will just take some company to figure out the internals like Razor, Alienware, MSI, or Asus to have the portable gaming machine to end all gaming machines, because at the end of the day it would have all the functionalists of a regular PC.

Mobile gaming is dead. Long live the Mobile PC.

(huge pictures because the blog formatting was being stupid)

#1 Posted by insanejedi (654 posts) -

A few years ago, a lof of us who are heavily invested into the game industry thought that there is no way that mobile cellphone games could ever replace something like the Nintendo DS or the PSP. Unfortunately whether that's true or not, it's increasingly becoming evident that people like us who care about tactile responsive controls more than convenience of a single device are falling by the way side.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some awesome Android/IOS games that are definitely worth playing like World of Goo, Myst, and Puzzle Quest 2 have all the depth that a lot of us are looking for in games, yet feature controls that make sense and are not dependent on exact responsive movements. Although the reason why many of these games work is because they were primarily designed as games you can play with a mouse with one button; take Myst for Example.

Click click click

With the falling out of the PSV and the 3DS, it might seem like a very dark road for anyone who would enjoy a great platformer like Braid, VVVVVV, or Mario and have to face it on a completely unresponsive and unrealiable for gaming touch screen. Some people have had a go and fixing this by launching stuff like the Playstation Phone, or an Ipad with physical buttons that attach to the device, but all these solutions have a single fatal flaw which is software support for these devices. The Playstation Phone only supports a couple of games, and I have yet to see anyone support these dumb IOS physical control peripherals. That and the third party devices are usually too bulky and impractical to use.

But there is a solution, and it may lie in Windows 8...

Now before you hit the back button to look at some kittens on the forums or hit reply and say "OH MY GOD WINDOWS 8 IS GARBAGE!" take a look at the picture and video below.

That is the Razer switchblade, it's a concept device much like a concept car that never really came to full production, but they have full working prototypes that play games like WoW or Dota 2 with these fancy display keys that change depending on what kind of gaming your playing. It features a 7 inch screen with full multi-touch screen support. This is all great in concept, but much like those peripherals and the Playstation Phone above, the key problem is who is going to support this stuff for a small hardware company like Razor? Not only that but the Windows 7 OS wasn't designed with touch. Now look at the picture below.

Now imagine if those display keys on the bottom are replaced with an Xbox 360 Controller like below. I think you know where this is going...

If you caught on now, you would realize that there are many many PC games that support the 360 Controller, Bastion, Skyrim, Braid, Dirt 3, Crysis, Saints Row, GTA 4, and on and on and on. Now Windows 8 on X86 makes it easier to navigate with a touch screen, but most importantly it is able to play all these games. The best part is that all of these games needs little to no patching because they already have support for 360 game pad controls! So if you released a concept like the Razor Switchblade on Windows 8, it would not only have hundreds of games supported on day one, but It's also a full OS tablet! That you can use for all sorts of things like word processing, web browsing, watching movies, or sending emails.

I realize there are several factors to look at such as battery life, where you get CPU's and GPU's that do the power without having too much heat or killing the battery, and how small the device can be. But At least Razer has proved that it can work with the Razer Switchblade and that was launched in 2011. Chips have advanced during that time and this concept becomes more and more possible. So if you are like me and find most of the mobile games wanting, there is very much light at the end of the tunnel. It will just take some company to figure out the internals like Razor, Alienware, MSI, or Asus to have the portable gaming machine to end all gaming machines, because at the end of the day it would have all the functionalists of a regular PC.

Mobile gaming is dead. Long live the Mobile PC.

(huge pictures because the blog formatting was being stupid)

#2 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

I'm sorry, but you lost me at that shitty Xbox prototype. That's a prime example of how to undermine your own argument. The Windows 8 tablet thing and the Razor device are very cool, though.

#3 Posted by Forderz (247 posts) -

Plausible result of a unified mobile/desktop OS. But all my best gaming on my DS was done while sitting on my couch at home, because I'm just too busy when I'm on the go. I had some great times with /shin-megami-tensei-devil-survivor-2/61-34522/, but all at home.

So this, while cool, changes absolutely nothing for me.

#4 Posted by insanejedi (654 posts) -

@Napalm said:

I'm sorry, but you lost me at that shitty Xbox prototype. That's a prime example of how to undermine your own argument. The Windows 8 tablet thing and the Razor device are very cool, though.

It's supposed to represent a Windows 8 Tablet with 360 controls. Don't have time, skill, and patience to paste on the 360 controls on the Razer Blade running Windows 8, Which would be the desired result.

#5 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

@insanejedi said:

@Napalm said:

I'm sorry, but you lost me at that shitty Xbox prototype. That's a prime example of how to undermine your own argument. The Windows 8 tablet thing and the Razor device are very cool, though.

It's supposed to represent a Windows 8 Tablet with 360 controls. Don't have time, skill, and patience to paste on the 360 controls on the Razer Blade running Windows 8, Which would be the desired result.

Who the hell wants that? I'd much rather have the original tablet, or the Razor Switchblade.

#6 Posted by insanejedi (654 posts) -

@Napalm said:

@insanejedi said:

@Napalm said:

I'm sorry, but you lost me at that shitty Xbox prototype. That's a prime example of how to undermine your own argument. The Windows 8 tablet thing and the Razor device are very cool, though.

It's supposed to represent a Windows 8 Tablet with 360 controls. Don't have time, skill, and patience to paste on the 360 controls on the Razer Blade running Windows 8, Which would be the desired result.

Who the hell wants that? I'd much rather have the original tablet, or the Razor Switchblade.

The whole point is that if you did have 360 controls, all games that support a 360 controls (basically everything) works on day 1 and are fully functional games with no need for other support. If you have the original Switchblade concept, not enough people would patch the game to support those controls. You'd have the Playstation Phone all over again.

#7 Posted by That1BlackGuy (217 posts) -

A good article, but overall I have to respectfully disagree with your initial argument. For starters, mobile device gaming still counts as portable gaming though linked only in a broad context. By that definition, portable gaming is doing well, but even if we don't consider iOS/Android, etc. The dedicated portable handhelds are doing well. If you checked overall sales of the DS, it is the highest selling console this generation and the PSP did relatively well for its time. Handhelds will continue to be a dominating force in Eastern Asia while retaining a niche audience in other areas of the world, that ain't too shabby where I sit.

Now the Razor Blade/Windows 8/360 integration concept you mentioned is very good and with the right execution it could work but I suspect that people would be more inclined to purchase the individual devices your concept is derived from rather than the devices itself.

#8 Posted by insanejedi (654 posts) -

@That1BlackGuy said:

A good article, but overall I have to respectfully disagree with your initial argument. For starters, mobile device gaming still counts as portable gaming though linked only in a broad context. By that definition, portable gaming is doing well, but even if we don't consider iOS/Android, etc. The dedicated portable handhelds are doing well. If you checked overall sales of the DS, it is the highest selling console this generation and the PSP did relatively well for its time. Handhelds will continue to be a dominating force in Eastern Asia while retaining a niche audience in other areas of the world, that ain't too shabby where I sit.

Now the Razor Blade/Windows 8/360 integration concept you mentioned is very good and with the right execution it could work but I suspect that people would be more inclined to purchase the individual devices your concept is derived from rather than the devices itself.

I do consider IOS and Android to be valid mobile gaming platforms, unfortunately for many of us on this forum, I share their feelings that the lack of tactile controls and games with depth are certainly lacking in those markets. It's the difference between playing Street Fighter and Infinity Blade, or Pokemon vs many other phone games. Max Payne, and Street Fighter 4 may all have the requisite depth being derived from full priced games in the past, but the poor control scheme makes having a good time a difficult process.

While it is a good point that mobiles are still doing relatively well in Asia, ipads and android devices are selling big there as well. And for better or for worse it seems like these devices are replacing the dedicated machines like the 3DS and PSV for the mainstream consumer. Fortunately Skyrim, Portal, and the such are also part of the mainstream and the blade/W8 concept might be able to shift the hardware for the better if the appeal of playing Skyrim wherever you are is strong enough.

#9 Posted by Fracture (149 posts) -

A little late to the party but I just recently started looking around this section.

I don't think there's really anything wrong with the portable gaming interface, it's just not being used right. On screen controls are just lazy. I know a lot of people want to see their big games on those smaller screens but the end result is usually crap. There are plenty of games that are built from the ground up to use the interface to better result. A lot of the board games do a great job with the interface (ascension, carcasonne, magic 2013, where's my water, and even angry birds). Now granted these are all the equivalent of XBLA titles in terms of scope but they kind of have to be for budget reasons. You can't really have a Big Budget game built from the ground up for tablets and then sell it at typical tablet prices, so we get terrible ports. However there is a LOT you can do with the interface and distribution model that work really well. The Walking Dead is basically a $25-$30 game but because they spaced out the content in $5 chunks and gave you a lot for your five bucks it worked. It helped that the game was a great representation of that genera.

I'm not saying there's not room for a mobile gaming platform, but right now the free to play and cheap to play models are lowering the price point that people find acceptable. Many puzzle games on the DS have the same, and in some cases less, content than a game like Where's my Water does and both tend to target the same demographic. The difference is that WMW costs a dollar and even with the add on's is still less than five bucks while those DS games are $40.