Handheld Gaming Ignored at E3

The PS Vita put forth a sadly lifeless showing, and Nintendo offered up a one-dimensional lineup for the 3DS, but is the writing on the wall for on-the-go gaming?

There were a handful of recurring themes at this year's E3, including crashing helicopters, bows and arrows, graphic violence, and anticipation for the next generation of consoles. But the biggest story for the industry's future may have been the conspicuously low profile of handheld gaming at the show.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you everything you needed to see about the PS Vita from Sony's E3 briefing.

The home console focus of Sony's press conference was the first and most significant sign that this wouldn't be a strong E3 for handhelds, because the conditions were perfect for the PlayStation Vita to come out strong and steal the show. The PS Vita had its global rollout in February, and finds itself in need of a boost after an underwhelming start at retailers. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 3 is entering its dotage, currently trailing the Xbox 360 on a consistent basis and nearly ready to be rendered obsolete by the announcement of a PlayStation 4. Sony would never have more reason to push its portable and less reason to cling to its aging console.

And yet, the Sony press conference had so little PS Vita content, it would have been more likely to dissuade people from buying the portable. If someone walked into Sony's show with an open mind about the system, what would have pushed them into a purchase? Assassin's Creed: Liberation got a nice reveal trailer with a hardware bundle, and Sony tried to make a big deal out of unveiling a subtitle for the already known Call of Duty PS Vita game, but the scattering of other tidbits had little excitement or fanfare surrounding them. Let's recap: The PS3 Super Smash Bros. clone people are so unenthused about is also coming to the PS Vita. PSOne Classics are coming to PS Vita gradually instead of with blanket backward compatibility. Hulu Plus and Crackle will arrive on the PS Vita.

"The conditions were perfect for the PlayStation Vita to come out strong and steal the show."

If you're being generous and consider the entirety of the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale demo as PS Vita content, all of the above announcements put together clocked in at about 13 minutes of the conference's 85-minute run time. Or just about the same amount of time as was focused on the Wonderbooks campaign for the PlayStation Move. Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida later explained that PS Vita's anemic showing at the press conference was not because Sony didn't have anything to show, but because the company's bigger priority was not being accused of having an excessively long press conference and to make sure the stuff shown was impactful. (I planned to put a snarky rundown of the Sony announcements that had no impact here, but it turned out most of them were included in the PS Vita segments mentioned above.)

Granted, there were dozens of PS Vita games on the show floor, but the media briefing is the place to highlight the company's priorities, the projects it's most excited about. And judging by the conference, Sony is marginally more excited about PS Vita than it is about changing the name of PlayStation Suite to PlayStation Mobile.

It's not like things were much better for 3DS owners, either. Nintendo had four separate media briefings during the week of E3, and only one of them dealt with the 3DS in a substantial way. The publisher openly admitted its primary press conference was a coming out party for the Wii U, and only carved out about seven minutes to go over New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Oh, and they also had a sizzle reel that was an insult to the word "sizzle," highlighting just four upcoming third-party games, one of which (Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance) has been known about for years and launches next month.

Several months ago, I defended handheld gaming in a point-counterpoint column, saying it wasn't doomed at all; it just wasn't as sexy next to the explosive growth of mobile gaming. I still believe that the dedicated portable gaming market is as viable as ever, that tablets and cell phones cannot replace the precision necessary for many of the richest gaming experiences, and that there are still plenty of gamers willing to pay as much as $40 for top-flight gaming on the go. I still believe all of that, but judging from this year's E3, it's a belief that neither Sony nor Nintendo share. And if the people who make the dedicated portable gaming hardware have no faith in it, why should gamers buy into it, either?

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165 comments
RICHARDuk
RICHARDuk

Sony Has To Push PS VITA and Marcket It more otherwise it will go the same way as PSP

MrJorsh
MrJorsh

I just got a vita and I love it. The hardware is sooo impressive and if you own a ps3, it is much more practical to own. I really hope Sony doesn't ignore the people who actually bought it

Faithbringer
Faithbringer

Handheld isn't fading but unfortunally isn't being proper worked on either...The big "problem" is that the consoles and PC are being targeted by the big titles and gaming hits so the portable ones are getting either "reduced ports" or "spin-offs" that may not appeal for the audience.

 

Both portables are rather fresh in the market so give them about 1 year or so before starting to bash them for being useless ports, if in this time NOTHING at all came to light, then I guess portable gaming will be reserved to Android/IPHONY with Angry Birds and whatever else they toss at it.

Ford46liters
Ford46liters

i cant speak for other people but i would imagine sony would see a significant rise in ps1 games sells on the ps network if they follow through on making all ps1 games playable on vita

Ford46liters
Ford46liters

im not buying a vita until you can buy ps1 games on them once that happens sony ill fork my money over happily for a 3g vita.

Stardust7
Stardust7

Interesting article....I wanna buy a psvita since it was released ..the only reason that i didnt buy yet is : THERE ARE NOT cool games enough to it and absolutely none special title lol that simple....actually only one game caught my attention ..it is Gravity Rush...but its not enough....and im still wating good titles n i think the most players r waiting for good games as well...

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

I feel that the real question after this past E3 is IS E3 losing its relevance. More games are being announced and shown outside e3 than this years E3.

digilobe
digilobe

I do like any game consoles like Vita, and 3DS which I have. Lots of people mention that handheld game consoles are fading out a bit these days because of mobile/smart phones are taking over. I actually do enjoy a couple of games on my iPhone 4S, and I think those games are designed for the smart phone. That's why I repeatedly play with those games on my iPhone. I believe that if Nintendo & Sony offer a lot more games which are designed for those handheld game consoles, many people would be interested in spending some money on games.

sparq1
sparq1

I was pretty disappointed by the PSP library of games so I expected them to do the same the thing with the PS Vita. All that tech doesn't mean jack if there's not a "QUALITY" library of games. I bought the PSP when it first rolled out and they NEVER delivered a Resident Evil or Devil May Cry. If it had not been for the hacks that you could do I wouldn't have even kept my PSP.

The Resident Evil and Snake Eater 3DS titles were system sellers for me. Not the fact that the 3DS was cheaper. I'll pay top dollar for quality but never agin will I pay that kind of money for a game system that was better at playing movies and music than games.

strangeseraph
strangeseraph

Being a handheld gamer, I was severely disappointed. I just sold my PSP and all my UMD games so I can get a Vita but not knowing anything about whats going on with it sucks. I get everything from rumor and news sites now, E3 is no longer reliable.

ronnieo54
ronnieo54

E3 is hardly the best place to learn anything substantial about anything anymore. Its all sensationalism and speculation, 2 things that gamespot.com thrive on. Don't take this to mean the vita or 3ds are doomed, if you pay attention to anything this "journalist" says in the article, let it be that dozens of games were shown on the floor - thats the most important thing.   

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

I still have my original Gameboy.  I don't need aything more expensive.

niklev83
niklev83

Kant keep my emotions under control..... I dont know whether to be upset... because the excuse that the guy used to say it wouldnt fit in the presentations just proves they have NOTHING to show!!! :(:(:( ....I have my PSVita and I DEMAND more games for this device!!! Sony got it right with this one, PLEASE go and ENSLAVE some studios to create games for your machine.... Games, Games, Games, is what will win your customers attention....And keep them loyal forever!!! :)  .......I am enjoying my MGS HD Collection now and its amazing! ....please keep the games rolling out your developers and put them on the store shelves!!!! Has to be done.

MUKUSS
MUKUSS

Defibrillator...sorry:(

MUKUSS
MUKUSS

Dammit sony,how much longer will you make my vita suffer...I still believe that there is still hope yet...breathe vita....breathe dam you...CLEAR (shocking sound from defillator)

eiji1
eiji1

Delightfully thought-provoking, as always, Brendan

OhJayDubya
OhJayDubya

The 3DS had its own show and showed off some nice looking games. I don't think its all doom and gloom for handhelds, just need some killer games to come out for both consoles and things will take care of themselves.

psuboy172
psuboy172

I still think the 3DS did well considering they gave an extra 1 hour show on all new games which I really enjoyed.  I didn't see the PS Vita doing that

 

Qv9
Qv9

I hardly think the lack of showtime for 3ds and Vita is a big issue. It makes sense for both to be over shadowed by their home console conterparts since more people watching own said home consoles.

 

Now if they solely showed iphone games instead of 3ds and Vita ones, I'd say there would definitely be a need to worry! However no handheld games were shown, 3ds, Vita or mobile so who cares?

AirBizkit89
AirBizkit89

e3 is like a holiday to me and this e3 didn't feel like one.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

That's a real good article, Brendan. Interesting read.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

This E3 got me excited about the line up for the 3DS. There are already 4 games coming out next month that I really want and after E3, I just added 5 more and the 3DS was my first handheld ever and so far every game I've gotten for it has been a blast so I'm excited for the 3DS's future. 

edpeterson
edpeterson

 I wanted a reason to get a Vita this year at E3, but I didn't see one so guess I won't be getting one any time soon :(

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Another awesome article! Great read, Brendan!

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I full heartedly agree with sinclair I'm a huge vita fan and I wish sony would support their device with ambition but at the moment e3 just showed me an example of how much they didn't care about the device which is a injustice to all the customers who went out and brought their product.  If next year e3 is the same I may have to change my stance on buying anything from sony from now on... 

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

I'm looking forward to Luigi's Mansion:Dark Moon. Other than that, E3 was mediocre with handheld games.

Zero9698
Zero9698

the 3ds is appelling and has 3rd party support but im not much of a nintendo gamer(anymore) if i were to buy 1 i'd get MGS 3d, tekken, & RE: revelations...MGS3 i already hav, tekken is alone is boring,& RE is appealing

Zero9698
Zero9698

its stupid for sony to show those many games @ e3 for vita... if they expect to make any $$ from vita they need heavy 3rd party support,& apps you would see on phones for vita. the handhled market will shrink/has shrunk only because of dem shitty games on phones ....although i hav to admit tht AC3 bundle for vita is tantilizing

Outatomomega
Outatomomega

It would seem that mobile devices are overshadowing other Handheld gaming devices. I rarely see people pulling out a DS or a PS Vita and rather simply open another app on their already exposed phone. I personally hate playing games on my phone but the market says otherwise, since everyone requires a phone today why not purchase games on something you have to carry everywhere as oppose to a optional device. 

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

Today I basically maxed out my 32gb Vita memory card by adding MGS: HD Collection to it. I am a prime example of a gamer who is willing to shell out the bucks for deeper portable experiences than my iPhone offers. I was shocked that there was no 3DS-lite announcement and that games like Killzone Vita were entirely absent from E3. 

jmewhyte
jmewhyte

The thing is handheld gaming works really well with the right games. I emulate the SNES on Android and have ploughed though a number of JRPGs and it works well.

 

Smartphone goes are just pants in comparison and so basic, so the potential clearly exists for RPGs and slower paced games to dominate handheld and offer something away from the twitch FPSs that need crazy graphics. The Vita is brilliant, but where are the games. I just hope no one goes In App Purchase on games, just cos its mobile.

flamesofexuro
flamesofexuro

i think it kinda sucks that the ps vita isnt getting really any attention i for one dont have but not cuase i dont want one i just got other things in my Need-to-Buy list and well a gaming console (portable or not) isnt exactly a need-to-buy i got a tablet and the games on those thing dont hold my attention more than a couple of weeks i was at last years E# and the Vita was getting hell of alot of attention as far as gaming goes tablets still got a way to go Sony just needs to get its sh#t together if it doesnt want the vita to go down the toilet

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

Another winner of an article Brendan.

im2cool123
im2cool123

the 3ds had a 1 hour show all to its own after e3. the e3 stage is not the only place to see new info on your console.

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

Where are the JRPG's and SRPG's of this generation? Don't see myself buying Vita for AssCreed or Uncharted.

ivan_osorio
ivan_osorio

Sony has its own show in TGS. I'll wait until then to find out how the Vita stands. I'm actually considering getting one in the near future, but there is VERY little reason to do so now.

Renoo27
Renoo27

It is a shame, but it hasn't dampened my feeling towards hand-held gaming at all. Hell, I still play on my PSP every night before sleeping. The only I don't have a Vita yet is because I never buy consoles at full price. Plus, I don't feel like I really need one. The games currently available look good but I'm not mad for them. Still, that's not strictly because it's a hand-held.

Sw1tched
Sw1tched

I am kind of glad anyways ... because i completely IGNORE hand held gaming to. No one has ever shown me a app/game or handheld that i enjoyed EVER. Angry Birds is the only thing i have tolerated for more than an hour. I play games for engrossing stories, worlds, puzzles and gameplay. I don't care what you say or who you are, you will NEVER get that in a handheld. The Vita is the closest thing because of it's power, but i wouldn't even touch it till it shows me something!

icy1007
icy1007

 @tehtimeisnow iPhone/iPad "gaming" sucks. I'd play on a dedicated gaming handheld anytime given the choice.

domokun00
domokun00

 @tehtimeisnow Handheld gaming isn't dead and mobile gaming isn't a replacement. Iphone games are just fun distractions. Tell me when the app store gets a full Assassin's Creed Game, or a fun cart racer, or an enjoyable 3d platforming game, or a fighter that is better than the console version, or a 2d platforming game with the capabilities of creating iphone-like games. Until I see one of those on the app store, Iphone games are just a fun distraction, not a replacement.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Ultramarinus 

Raganrok Odyssey is coming out for the Vita, but I'm not sure what else. I'm eagerly awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS along with Heroes of Ruin and still waiting on an announcement for Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

 @Ultramarinus JRPGs are sadly not very popular in the west thus have become less available. I think only SE and Atlus still make and localize their RPGs, even Namco Bandai gave up on localizing their games.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Sw1tched 

Super Mario 3D Land and Kid Icarus: Uprising are 2 titles right now that match what you said you're looking for. Pokemon Conquest is coming out next week, Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts 3D is coming out next month. Even though I've only owned a 3DS, I decided to look into the DS library and found 2 games with probably the most unique storyline I've experienced in a long time, Ghost Trick Phantom Detective (extremely engrossing story for a puzzle game) and The World Ends With You (JRPG set in present day Japan with an intense fast paced battle system and puzzles you need to solve every chapter of the game, on top of having a compelling story). So unless you easily get bored or just lack any sort of imagination, those 2 games have engrossing stories, different settings, gameplay that required a lot of thinking and planning. I'm sure there are more but these are what I've experienced and Ghost Trick was actually nominated for Best Story in a videogame for 2011.

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

 @Sw1tched there are good gaming experiences on both the DS and PSP, if you say there isn't then you don't know much about hand held games. playing Angry Birds says you only played mobile games which are far inferior

Gabrieliam
Gabrieliam

 @mav_destroyer I know, right? It's so disappointing. All Sony needs to do to instantly improve the sales of the Vita would be to say "Monster Hunter. On the Vita." And sales would skyrocket. (This would mainly apply to Japan, unfortunately) However, they (Sony)  haven't yet released a lot of their ongoing franchises in terms of JRPG's. Ah well, it's only going to hurt them...and us...

Sw1tched
Sw1tched

 @mav_destroyer You are completely incorrect. Coming to the assumption that i only play mobile games or know nothing about hand helds is ridiculous from my what i stated. I just didn't say that i played angry birds on the PS3 via PSN and someone elses smartphone. I don't even have a smart phone and play 0 mobile games. I had a PSP, hated it, sold it ... have a DS ... and there is 2 games i played more than 2 hours in the 3 years i have had it. The 3Ds is the same. I was stating my opinion, so there was no reason to say i am incorrect or wrong or know nothing about portable gaming.

Kocelot
Kocelot

 @Sw1tched i had a PSP and also hated it, and sold it as well. you have a DS and you played only 2 out of the hundreds of great games it has to offer? I don't think you even kept in touch with the DS during its time. I lost touch with the DS for about 2 years, came back to it, and still played fun games I didn't think I could ever even get into! and btw, the 3DS  has not even been out for a year yet. The Gameboy Advance, original DS, PS3, and even the PS2 started off slow. But look where they are now!

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

 @Sw1tched relax, no need to get so worked up, it was not my intention to anger you. lets work on the wording a bit more and hopefully sort this out peacefully.

 

you said "I don't care what you say or who you are, you will NEVER get that in a handheld" now that is extreme. i respect your opinion if portable games don't interest you but to go out and say "never"? I've been playing portable games since the first Gameboy and in my opinion they provided many rich experiences that rival if not sometimes exceed consoles. its okay to have different opinions but too say that good gaming experiences are non-existent on handhelds is going too far. 

 

allow me to quote myself "you don't know much about hand held games" i didn't say "nothing" i said "much", i'm sorry if it bothered you to that extent but it strikes me that someone who thinks good gaming experiences don't exist on portables hasn't had "much" experience playing good portable games

 

i hope that clears it up

Sw1tched
Sw1tched

 @pillar81 So 3 games on numerous hand helds over many years should sway my decision? That's actually laughable. And yes with him stating i know NOTHING of hand helds is saying that i am incorrect and wrong for saying that they suck ... how did you not interpret that? Besides how is this a debate it's a freakin opinion. Just because you want to play silly dumbed down experiences so they fit on a hand held, so be it. I was  farther lamenting the fact that i agree with the article that hand helds got ignored and E3, and are completely ignored by me.

Gabrieliam
Gabrieliam

 @Sw1tched But DO you know anything about portable gaming? You've glossed over the point. You say you have had both a PSP and a DS, and then you go to lengths to state how you sold your PSP, and never use your DS. Also, while the Vita doesn't necessarily have the full lineup it could have, it has some pretty solid games out there right now. Gravity Rush? Metal Gear Solid? (A port, I'll grant you that) Uncharted? All excellent games, with the gameplay and stories you mentioned. Also, you seem to be contradicting yourself. You say the only game you've tolerated for over an hour has been angry birds (Do you mean the only portable game?) yet you also say that you play games for story, setting, puzzles, and gameplay. As far as I can tell, Angry Birds has...none of those. It does make an excellent distraction, if you're not in the mood for an interesting setting or engaging gameplay, and just want mindless entertainment, but it should never replace handheld gaming. (I say that it SHOULD never because, based on sales, it very well may. However, that would mark a blatant degradation of interest, which would mark a much more important trend than simply portables not selling as well. EDIT: Ergh, pillar, you beat me to my argument while I was writing this. Ah well, you make a good point.

pillar81
pillar81

 @Sw1tched 

"I play games for engrossing stories, worlds, puzzles and gameplay. I don't care what you say or who you are, you will NEVER get that in a handheld."

 

In essence, you're saying Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush and Escape Plan don't have that. Well I, and many critics disagree.  

 

I for one, am getting engrossing stories, worlds, puzzles and gameplay on my Vita and on PSP.

 

For a person stating your opinions you sure have been talking in absolutes. Let's see. You have told mav_destroyer that he is incorrect in his assumption of you. Then you say you hated the PSP. Then you are alleging that he told you that you were "incorrect", "wrong", know "nothing" of portable gaming. From what mag has written, he said no such things.