For some time now there has been a considerable crossover between the world of video gaming and online casinos. The latter has picked up a great deal in terms of using gamification techniques to keep players engaged. The former has incorporated online casino programs into games like GTA 5 with its Diamond Casino and Resort. And who can forget the casino in PlayStation Home on the PS3 that kept gamers enthralled for hours at a time? I lost count of the amount of time I spent as part of Sony’s innovative online community. But some observers feel that the huge success of players using their mobile devices to play in online casinos could be the first step towards the end of the line for handheld gaming devices.
You only need to take a look at somewhere like the online casino at Paddy Power. You’ll see straight away just how sophisticated their offering has become, as well as why it’s now most players’ preferred way to access the site. The range of games, from slots to roulette look good and play perfectly. Even their live casino games can be streamed smoothly to the vast majority of devices.
So, when a smartphone or tablet can offer this level of quality, is there a long-term future for handheld gaming devices? Naturally, their devotees will answer this question with a resounding “yes” but there’s quite strong evidence that could bring it into doubt.
For example, there’s the economic argument. Some of the latest figures suggest that around 87% of all adults in the UK own or have access to a smartphone. Many even have two or more. By and large, these are expensive devices. So, in these cost-conscious times, many may also be wondering whether they also need to splash out their hard-earned cash on a handheld gaming device too.
The hardware manufacturers also seem conscious that this may be the way the world is going, After all, didn’t Sony pull the plug on the PS Vita back in 2019 stating at the time that they had no immediate plans to replace it?
Granted, fans have speculated for some time that Sony might have a PS Vita 2 in the works secretly. And while we all have a PS Vita 2 wishlist of what we’d want to see in a replacement, we feel that it’s probably too late for Sony to return to the handheld market themselves. Despite Nintendo proving that there is still a demand for handheld consoles with the success of the Nintendo Switch – which could be the reason rumours have started about Sony wanting to give handhelds another try – it’s unlikely that Sony would attempt to do so. Afterall, no company would want to play catch-up when Nintendo are dominating so strongly right now.
Of course, people don’t buy their handheld devices for the sake of the devices themselves. They play them as a medium on which to play their favourite games. Again, coming back to Nintendo briefly, they’ve generally been behind the competition technically but have delivered the games their customers have wanted which has ensured success with almost all of their consoles to-date.
It was once the case that games for mobiles were so far behind these that there was no comparison. But today the landscape has changed out of all recognition with games becoming much more sophisticated, as well as countless console games now being optimised for mobile play. Plus the sheer ease with which games can be acquired and played on mobile makes it an almost seamless process. In the case of online casinos, a quick download of the appropriate app and a registration process for security purposes is all that’s needed.
Which raises another interesting point for Sony. Strangely, even though they have always been seen as being a family-friendly company with their software Nintendo have a wide range of casino themed games available for the Nintendo Switch. While none of them are apps designed for online casinos and are all for fun only, it has a surprisingly large selection of casino, slots and card games available. Compared with the PS Vita or even consoles like the PS4 and XBox One it has become a leading choice for those wanting to play casino games risk free.
But in an even more chilling vision of the future for Sony and Microsoft, even back in 2018 Forbes was questioning the future of consoles. Naturally, this is all pure speculation at this point and there are undoubtedly many who will want to keep a firm grip on their handheld devices. But, as to the future and with the increasing influence and success of the mobile online casino, we’re not going to bet on their long-term success.