Handheld is for Casual

I think if Apple releases a tablet thing later this year, it’s going to prove Nintendo to be an odd visionary. They were right that casual, innovative gameplay and not cutting edge graphics was the future of gaming, but wrong when they built a console around it. A dwindling population of PC gamers aside, console systems (mostly just the XBOX 360) are where people play serious games, and iPhones are where everyone else plays casual games. Nintendo had it right with the DS, a few years before the iPhone, even, but with telephones now able to do everything a dedicated handheld device can without forcing people to carry around a second device, I don’t see much of a place for Nintendo anymore, despite having been exactly right about the sorts of games people were going to want to play. (Though as I’ve said before, Guitar Hero proved that you don’t have to base a system around innovative control schemes, just force your customers to buy plastic instruments.)

Apple’s tablet will likely be a great gaming machine, but it’s not going to have the horsepower of an XBOX. Yet the App Store has gotten millions of people playing casual games, where before it was just that Solitaire game that came with Windows.

Not that Nintendo’s in bad shape. There’s little chance I won’t buy and love Mario Galaxy 2 and their next Zelda game, but more and more I think the new paradigm will be that casual gaming is for handheld telephones and tablets, and hardcore gaming is for HDTVs.