The Gaming Handheld: Consigned To The History Books?

Will the Nintendo 3DS be the last true dedicated handheld gaming console?

If you were to walk down the street with an original Game Boy in hand and asked people to identify it, you’d likely find that a lot of people could — even those who may not consider themselves "gamers." That fact is testament to how much of a sensation the console was. Whilst it likely owes much of its success and popularity to the original Pokemon games, its impact cannot be ignored.

No longer was gaming something that could only be done in your living room in front of the TV, the portability of consoles like the Game Boy allowed gaming to expand in a plethora of new directions.

But what does the current landscape look like for handheld gaming?

In short, it is rather bleak. There are only two dedicated gaming handhelds on the market, the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.

Nintendo would probably want to begin development on a 3DS successor soon.

Unfortunately, Sony has stopped development for first party Vita games, meaning that the Vita exists as little more than an indie gaming machine. On the other hand we have the 3DS. Although it gained popularity due to the launch of the original 3DS way back in 2011, and a slightly improved ‘New 3DS’ launched in late 2014/early 2015, the bottom line is Nintendo would probably want to begin development on its successor. But the big question is, will they?

In recent months, we've seen Nintendo shifting towards the mobile gaming market. While its social networking app Miitomo launched with divided opinion, we are still yet to see anything concrete about the rumored Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games. Furthermore, during a recent shareholders meeting, it was hinted that Nintendo is looking into a game controller to be used for mobile games.

Thus, if the king of the gaming handheld is seemingly abandoning this sector of gaming, it begs the question:

Is the 3DS the last of a dying breed?

I own a 3DS XL, but in all honesty, I don’t use it as much as I wish I did. That’s mainly down to my situation. Many people will say they find their gaming handheld an invaluable asset during their morning commute to work. But alas that is a luxury I don’t get. Instead, if I fancy spending some time gaming, I will switch on my PS4. But more tellingly, if I have just a spare few minutes I won’t reach for my 3DS, instead I’ll use my mobile phone to entertain myself.

The many rumors swirling around the mysterious 'Nintendo NX' hint that it could contain some sort of handheld element. But with little concrete evidence to go on, it seems we will have to wait until 2017 to get an answer.

So if the Nintendo 3DS is indeed the swansong of the gaming handheld, it and all that came before it will be sorely be missed by myself.

And I would hope, gamers across the world will miss it too.

Published Jul. 8th 2016
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