Incoming 2013: Next-Gen Handheld

A console that needs to deliver a revolution to drive sales

What we know: The biggest hardware launch in 2012 was clearly the Wii U home console from Nintendo but, when the year started, many expected that the Vita would also be an important device for the gaming world.

Instead, the new Sony-made handheld has languished in semi-obscurity since it was introduced, despite its impressive hardware and some pretty interesting launch titles.

The Vita is failing to break the PSP sales numbers at times and even if the 3DS from Nintendo performs better, it has failed to generate the numbers that the hardware maker predicted.

Many industry watchers have taken this as a sign that the time for dedicated hardware handhelds is past and that mobile play time is now heavily linked to Android and iOS-powered smartphones.

But it’s unlikely that Sony and Nintendo have given up on the market entirely and at least one full handheld will be announced if not launched before the end of the year, proving that gamers can still distinguish between a device for communication and one that only targets gaming.

Such a new device will have to offer more power than the average smartphone and a lot of media-related capabilities while avoiding the temptation of also including as many communication tools as possible.

Why it matters: The PlayStation Portable and the DS have long been a place where developers were ready to experiment because the stakes were lower than on home consoles.

If they disappear and drag the gaming handheld down, then a gap will open between the gaming experiences available inside the home and the way players will engage with video games on their smartphones.

Alternatively, both Sony and Nintendo might offer amazing price drops for the PSP and 3DS while also releasing big titles to make them attractive again.

The full Incoming 2013 series of articles can be read on Softpedia right here.

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