Weekend Discussion: Handheld Gaming


Yesterday, I posted an article that shared the thoughts of Mark Cerny about Nintendo.  In the comments,  the 3DS was mentioned and a strange point was brought up, that I found interesting.

The first commentor said, “My son hasn’t touched his 3DS since getting an iPad.”  I found that very interesting, especially since the iPad is not a dedicated gaming device, and (although  there is a fair amount of fantastic games there) is mostly filled with quick games to play when you have a few spare minutes.  Could it be that his son is not only playing games on there, but using it for other purposes too?  Is he using it primarily to fulfill his mobile gaming needs?  Or, is he just not gaming on a mobile platform anymore?

Another commentor brought up a similar point, “My son barely touches his 3DS since I got him an iPhone. Seriously, the absolute rubbish I see him playing on it is beyond belief. Yet I am playing my 3DS more and more.”.  This comment almost mirrors the first commentor’s statement in regards to using the iOS, instead of the 3DS, but also rides along with my thoughts about the types of games that he is playing.  Another point he shares is that he is using the 3DS more and more.  I find myself using my 3DS more and more also.

Could it be that a dedicated handheld console is fading from popularity with the younger crowd, or are these two examples just a coincidence?  When I was younger, I rarely played handhelds because the cost of batteries was insane, and I never bought an AC adapter to go along with them.  However, now that I am older, I find the handhelds to be more convenient with my busy lifestyle.  I would include the Wii U gamepad in that category too, I use it so much more than the on TV functionality whenever possible.  Out of all my consoles, I find it rare to sit down for a considerable amount of time to remain focused on a game.  Are handhelds, like the 3DS, a bigger appeal for older gamers such as me?

If that is so, then how do we explain the popularity of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and the Pokemon games?  They found their success on the 3DS, and seem to have no signs of stopping.  Would they be as popular on a console, rather than a handheld?

What are your thoughts, will this be the last generation of dedicated handheld consoles, or will we see them for many years to come?  If you feel that dedicated handhelds are a dying breed, why is it?  Is it quality of games, the ability for iOS, Android, and Windows phone to contain enough power to play the games?  Is it just that the younger crowd is not interested?

Share your thoughts below.

Essel Pratt has spent his life exploring his imagination and dreams. As a Husband and a Father, he doesn't have as much time to write as he would like. However, his mind is always plotting out his next story. Someday he hopes to quit the 9-5 grind and focus on writing full time. Currently, Essel has three published short stories and is working on a handful of novels. Essel focuses his writings on mostly Horror/Sci-Fi, however is known to add a dash of other genres into his writings as well. In his spare time, he can be found playing one of the 40+ video game consoles in his collection, especially his Wii U (NNID: EsselPratt). Click the links below to follow Essel's exploits in the writing world, and be sure to follow his blog at http://esselpratt.blogspot.com/ as well as his articles on Nerdzy.com.


  1. Coincidence … At my store I always see a about 1 out of every 4 kid carrying a 3ds and playing it while walking around.. Gotta remember the 3ds has just started hitting its stride and with the popularity of apple always being advertised everywhere u go, yea alot of kids do play with more iPads. Bigger screen multi purpose as far as for school music movies games and reading.. If anything the 3ds would be more suited for kids since they have more free time, and less responsibilities vs adults… Now if your living room setup is like most people where there’s a tv and that’s it and you have a big family then clearly handhelds would be your choice due to minimal opportunity to play consoles..

    My living room is weird due to the fact that I have a LCD up top and a regular tv inside the ent center.. The kids can watch tv while I play my Xbox and i dont use my ios devices except for social media ant internet, but then again my 3ds needs needs to be shipped to Nintendo for the top screen repair so I could be playin that more at home. Well see later on…. So I guess handhelds vs consoles depends on your family lifestyle.. With the ton of games coming out The 3ds usage will dramatically increase especially in the fall where kids are more out of the house

  2. I think the appeal of iPods and iPads is directly tied to the online experience, not the games. With one device you have a very robust browser, e-mail, YouTube and every social app available. The online experience of a system like the 3DS is poor to say the least.

    My 14 year old daughter is on YouTube a lot. She checks her e-mail a lot and she texts a lot. These are all things she’s able to do with her iPod Touch easily, but not with a 3DS. I guarantee that if Nintendo offered a dedicated YouTube app, it would go a long way towards giving the 3DS street cred.

    I like my 3DS a lot, but not to play games and certainly not for the online features. I use it as a portable sketchpad because Colors happens to be my favorite painting application. I also really like many of the high quality painting, animation and music apps. Using a stylus with a small tip for painting and animation apps is a natural and a better alternative to using my finger on an iPod or iPad.

  3. It’s simple.
    Porn is alot easier to watch on iOS than 3DS.
    And those two kids have a bad taste in gaming. Doesn’t sound like they’re jailbroken playing PSX and GBA classics.

  4. I think iOS and android have a lot of potential, but currently they have really big problems to overcome, before they can rival my 3DS. For instance, they need a good discovery tool, so you’re able to identify the very few good games from the hundreds of garbage games they release every day.

  5. I don’t particularly see handhelds as a dying breed; Since I am still considered merely a young child, I thought I’d give my reasons as to why I have been playing my 3DS less and less:

    1.) Several of the handheld games that I own don’t really offer much once you finish a game. I know that it’s not really that important, but for example, Kid Icarus 3D. I mean, it was a great game and all, but the game can be completed in one day (the story mode). Then, all that’s left is to grab weapons, treasures, and play online. It’s a good game overall, but once you finish it, the likelihood for me to pick it up and start a new game, or do what’s left, is kind of very low.

    2.) There are lots of kids out there who, obviously, rely on their parents to buy them games for their handhelds. But what if the parents think one game is all that’s needed? What if they don’t really feel like buying another game for their handheld? Or, what if, for example, they set a certain limit on how many games you can get within a year? I can honestly relate to this. If you’re limited to the amount of games you can get, the one game you already have seems to get boringer, less fun, repetitive, the more you play it. And so they turn to other things, such as a phone. Now that I have a phone, I have been overusing it these days, for games and internet surfing. I haven’t really touched my 3DS much until trying out a demo and swapping friend codes.

    So, in my experience, it’s restrictions that some kiddos may have, that makes their 3DS more unappealing and less attractive…


    Did all this make sense?

  6. I think here are a number of factors at work when evaluating this topic. In my personal view, I love my 3DS over my iPhone 5 as far as gaming is concerned. The iOS games I have played do not generally engage me the same way as more traditional games can. I view games on my phone as more of a convenience thing to fill small gaps of time throughout the day. If I want to dedicate time to gaming, I will always select a console of some sort over a mobile format. Even games that I love that have been released on Android or iOS, often do not provide as good of an experience as the original.

    With that said, I have a 9 year old daughter that has access to a tablet, computer, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U on a regular basis. She enjoys all of these devices, but if she isn’t currently fascinated by a particular title, she gravitates to her 3DS the most. Second would be the Wii U, followed by the Wii. She tends to play games on the computer or tablet only when she is particularly bored. This could be due, in part, to the fact that I pay attention to the games I buy for her. A parent that isn’t vey knowledgable with regard to games can much more easily hand their child an iPad than try to figure out which $35 – $60 retail game on a dedicated games console (which would also need to be selected if one isn’t already owned) would be a good choice to entertain them.

    Consoles provide better gaming experiences, but phones and tablets are more convenient and have features that extend beyond gaming.

  7. Essel, the two examples you provided have one obvious thing in common. They’re KIDS. Kids have the attention span of a goldfish. They can love something, see something more shiny, and run towards it. It has nothing to do with the 3DS. It has to do with children being children.

  8. Seeing as my son was one of these kids in question in the article, I asked him directly. It all comes down to a couple of things. His phone game experiences while not as high in quality, come at a very cheap or free price, and there is basically no limit. He could play a different free game every day and still not scratch the surface. He is 13, so somehow Mario games have lost their cool, but Pokemon is still cool. He is into fps shooters on the 360. Not much like that on the 3DS. So generally, his tastes in games has changed. Most of his friends have iOS devices, very few have a 3DS, but tellingly a lot of them still own and play their original DS systems.

    The looks I get from him when I am playing Animal Crossing are very amusing. When i asked if he would like it, it was a very abrupt “No”.

    But as for me, well I’m loving it. I have a huge collection of VC games and eShop games. And I have a 32 gig SD card because I plan on buying some more retail titles directly to it. As a seasoned gamers system, the 3DS is first class, but that’s all it is, and while I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, without social features and apps, it won’t appeal to the Facebook and twitter generation.

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