Back to Basics: Markets Indicate Changing Times for Gaming Industry

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Brace yourself for the Nintendo Wii U- the cutting-edge new version of the Wii model by the world?s largest video-game maker, replete with a an I-Pad-esque games control flat pad, a high-definition front-facing camera and a 6.2-inch touch that has an awe-inspiring 1080p high resolution graphics capability- an apparently all-inclusive package expected to hit the stands in the beginning of the ?next fiscal year?.

As coming-of-age of the perks of this latest, much-hyped games console might sound to you, however, skeptics across the gaming world aren?t quite convinced. They say that the rapidly expanding world-wide population of video-gamers wouldn?t be much impressed with this slick new introduction to an already bludgeoning array of gaming consoles.

In fact, it?s not the ultra-sophisticated Wiis, PSPs or Kinects that are leading the on-going gaming revolution anyway- it?s the smart phone in your pocket and the PC on your desk.

The Demise of the Wii

Nintendo Co. has come under fire recently from its exasperated investors, after a recent announcement by the maker of the revolutionary Nintendo DS to cut short its annual profit forecast by 82%, immediately sending its shares on a downward spree the next day.

Analysts and investors alike strongly suspect the move to be a sign of the waning market share of currently the world?s largest video-game maker, even as it?s CEO and President Satoru Iwata persists in his claim that the games console market continues to survive in peaceful coexistence with the speedily advancing Smartphone gaming industry.

An additional decision by the video-game producer to slash its prices by as much as 40% doesn?t provide much substance to Iwato?s claims, much to the dismay of the panicking investors. Nevertheless, what anxiously remains to be seen is whether a ?40% discount? on Nintendo?s products would produce as much of a hullabaloo in gaming stores as it would have, once upon a time.

Rivals react

In its latest attempt to overcome what it?s certain is just a brief pitfall in its reign of success, Nintendo has finally decided to bring its much-beloved Mario brand to the 3DS. ?Super Mario 3DLand? comes to the aid of the faltering 3-D player console, but perhaps it?s a bit too late for this sinking ship, argue stakeholders.

Such a prediction may not be far off the mark, especially as rivals such as Sony have already planned their big-break into the unchartered territory. In April this year, the world?s second largest maker of portable players launched a ?PSP Smartphone? called the ?Xperia Play?, an Android-powered smartphone with an additional advanced gaming utility.

Moreover, Pokemon Co.?s recent jump into the smartphone gaming market thrust another devastating blow at Nintendo, as the former unit of the video-game producer announced its plan to produce a game for the iPhone and handsets powered by Google?s Mountain View Android software.

?Smartphones are the new battlefield for the gaming industry,? said Ohki, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Stats Investment Management Co. And analysts like Ohki opine that unless it moves fast to join the race, it might just be ?game-over? for Nintendo.

PC and Smartphone gaming

If the collapse of the game-consoles reign isn?t a shocker on its own, the aggressive return of PC Gaming is sure causing jaws to drop.

One need only look at Steam to realize it isn?t merely guileless speculation. The digital download service by Valve (an American video game development and digital distribution company) that has hundreds of millions of gamers logged into its servers at any given moment perfectly illustrates what PC gaming is getting right when gaming consoles are not.

Variety

To begin with, though a game for a smartphone may lack the sophistication and extended features offered by a high-budget AAA creation for a games console, the sheer variety of titles available to choose from seems to be scoring more brownie points for the former compared to gaming consoles like Nintendo, whose limited collection of games has cost it much in terms of popularity.

Steam, for example, offers more than 1300 games to its users, which exceeded 30 million up till July 2011. The availability of mediocre selections of games along with ground-breaking ones from a single source ensures users their entertainment shall never run stale.

Digital distribution

Looks like the gamers of the Internet Age are simply too ?lazy? to endure the hardship of having to physically purchase the latest breathlessly-awaited gaming extravaganza. Then again, if you can skip the hassle of ensuring you grab a disk before every game-store in town runs out and have it sent straight to your desktop with a mere click of a button, why would you look elsewhere anyway?

Cost

Furthermore, Smartphone and PC gaming also seem to be the more economical choice for consumers. For while the cost for an expensive game for the iOS platform can only stretch to a maximum of $10, a Nintendo 3DS game can set you back as much as $40- a costly compromise to make for what one may argue offers almost similar utility.

Greater Connectivity

PCs, on their own, aren?t simply making a return on the basis of the greater creative freedom they have to offer to game-development, especially with recent widespread technological advances that have radically improved their potential. In fact- the advent of the Smartphone as the ultimate gaming device with that of the PC is no sheer coincidence.

It?s the same old ubiquitous modern-day reality: Social Networking. As gamers seek to extend their gaming experience from mere personal entertainment to an all-inclusive social activity, the greater connectivity offered by Smartphones and PCs highlights that the recent trend in their favor is here to stay.

A glimpse into the future of gaming

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, the grandest and most anxiously-anticipated event of the gaming world, fuelled much far-fetched speculation among gaming-enthusiasts as to what the future of gaming would have to hold.

While the titles and gizmos introduced by the gaming giants far from wowed the crowd, they did provide a broad insight into the futuristic vision of the movers and shakers of the industry, further dropping vast hints as to how they were planning to embrace the leaps in technology to propel that vision forward.

For example, the introduction of several new models of avant-garde gaming consoles such Sony?s PS Vita and the Nintendo Wii U suggested a vicious race among competitors to produce the ?Gaming gadget of the future?, mostly based on compact, motion-sensor technology that would maximize portability and gamer interaction.

Nevertheless, the more extensive hype generated among gaming-enthusiasts by news of plans to launch new and improved versions of current big-budget titles such Microsoft?s Halo and EA?s Battlefield 3 suggested a striking gap in the expectations of video-game makers and their customers.

While the former is mesmerized by the old-school concept of new-age gadgetry, gaming enthusiasts seem to look forward to the same old elements that propelled the gaming industry forward in the first place- a vibrant and rich games galore that takes them to unexplored realms of virtual reality.

Sources: Bloomberg, Gamefront, Wikipedia, Thenextweb, Gamingbolt

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