Android gaming was meant to be the future….
And it still could be, but…..
Back in the day Nintendo, Sega, and Atari introduced the world to proper handheld gaming. A fierce war broke out between the Gameboy, the GameGear, and the mighty Lynx. The GameGear although able to play the entire back catalogue of Master System games with an adaptor was expensive and had horrible battery life. The Lynx although being massively technically superior than either of the others also had rubbish battery but the biggest killer for it was the lack of game support with developers not willing to get into bed with Atari who where clearly in their final death throws. This then left the Gameboy, a device that was technically poor with its monochrome LCD display that blurred badly and wasn’t back lit (anyone remember the magnifying lights that you could attach?). But it had some killer titles and faired well on the coat tails of the NES and SNES. The Gameboy won and the rest is history. Not even Sony could match it with the PSP and their last ditch effort (the current Vita) even with its compatibility with the PS3/4 can do it.
But handheld sales have been dying in a ditch. Why? Mobile gaming. Kids these days aren’t bought up with a Gameboy. Its with a mobile phone or tablet. Gone are the days of saving up your pocket money to get the latest Mario game. It is now spending a few bucks and 5 mins downloading. And on the Android platform at least, the more geek orientated like the open platform and being able to tinker and develop themselves.
With all sales point to mobile gaming being the future, why does it just not feel like it? Yes there is Angry Birds and Flappy Pigs or whatever; but no real mainstream acknowledgement of some of the “real” games out there. Just Googling “Android Gaming” doesn’t take you to some fancy Google sponsored site showing off all that there is. No; the first link is a one-man blog called droidgamers and about 2/3rds the way down the page you get to the Nvidia Shield.
Yet walk into JB HiFi or EB Games and its still wall-to-wall Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo. Where is the huge stand selling Shields, Moga Samsung and Logitech Gamepads, cheap JXD tablets from China, posters with the latest AAA games and Google Play gift cards? (well, the cards are there, jammed in with the iTunes cards at the cash register – but thats it). Its a joke.
So again, with all the statistics pointing to mobile gaming ruling the roost, you would never know it. You kinda have to be ‘in the know’ to work it out.
Now I’d never expect Apple to push it. They’ve only just introduced gamepad support into iOS and as a bit of an afterthought too. And they prefer their advertisement to look more like a tampon commercial with puppy dogs and running along a beach. But c’mon Google – you can do better than that!
Google have just announced the new Android TV platform (aka Google TV ver 2). Gaming is about 4th or 5th on the list of features. Serious? Have you not seen the Ouya, the Madcats, or the new ZTE Funbox (worst.name.ever)?
Until Google properly pushes gaming as a feature of their platform, its always going to be an under current concept. A feature that is only recognised by those that go looking for it.
Which is a shame. The mobile platform in general has finally reached the technical level to do it properly. All it needs now is a champion.