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    The PS Vita Stands Strong in Face of Mobile Competition

    The allure of the mobile marketplace has become too great to ignore. Even established gaming companies with their own handheld hardware, such as Sony and Nintendo, are getting in on the action. Fans of gaming on the go might have heard a thing or two earlier this year about Nintendo's move into the mobile gaming market and the news could have big implications for the future of Sony's own portable powerhouse, the PlayStation Vita.  
    via CNET
    Nintendo has officially revealed its plans to support smartphones in addition to continuing to create games for its own handheld consoles. The company has further reiterated that it plans to release at least five different titles taking advantage of various Nintendo IP by 2017. Also, it stated that all the titles will be free-to-play, though the games are planned to support micro-transactions. The first of the five planned titles is named "Miitomo." It's a communication-based app designed to encourage interaction between players while taking advantage of the "Mii" avatars popularized by the company's Wii console.
    The entrance of Nintendo into the mobile market and its decision to develop games for systems beyond its own proprietary hardware raises questions regarding the future of Sony and its own presence in the handheld marketplace. Earlier this fall, there were apocalyptic rumblings of the death of the beloved mobile device with some outlets reporting that there were no plans by Sony for the development of future titles for the Vita. That information seems to have come prematurely, though. To paraphrase the famous saying by Mark Twain, "the reports of the Vita's death have been greatly exaggerated." 
    Although some may have been worried for the company's 
    continued support of the device, Sony president Shuhei Yoshida has confirmed that there are still games in development for the Vita. However, it remains to be seen how many games will be developed and how long support will continue. The Vita has done very well for itself in Japan. While it hasn't achieved anywhere near that success in the West, it has managed to grow a sizable and devoted fan-base. No one questions the quality of the games and hardware for the PS Vita, but the device immediately faced tough competition from Nintendo and the rise of mobile devices as the handheld gaming platforms of choice. With Nintendo now competing on two fronts with both the 3DS and mobile devices, Sony will have to find a new way to appeal to the Millennial mobile gamer. However, it should be noted that while Nintendo might be giving Sony a run for its money on the handheld front, the same cannot be said for the company's living room console, the Wii U. The console has been soundly outperformed by Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. 
    The mobile market has quickly become the dominant force in handheld gaming and has done more than just knock Sony and Nintendo off of the portable gaming throne. Arcades and casinos have arguably had an even tougher time trying to compete with the mobile market as convenient online gaming platforms have encroached on the casual gaming market. Games that have usually been played either at kitchen tables or on large-scale arcade cabinets are going the way of the dinosaur, with the light- and sound-filled casino floors pushed aside in favor of freemium titles available for smartphones.
    In looking at the variety of video poker and other casual games available online, it's easy to see that there are fresh takes on cards, slot machines, roulette and more. And they provide everything for mobile gamers at one central portal without the need for additional expensive hardware. These types of casino combo-packs have become the preferred platforms for those searching for some quick entertainment without requiring much personal investment to get into the game and play a few rounds. This need for the ever-important casual gamer is a large part of why Nintendo is pushing for in-game purchases with its latest release, the free-to-play Nintendo Badge Arcade for the 3DS. It is much more profitable (and easier) to get thousands of people to spend a dollar or two than it is to get a much smaller number to spend upwards of $50 for a one-time purchase.
    Given the way the market is moving, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to expect Sony to begin supporting iOS and Android in addition to the Vita. You know, much in the same way Nintendo will be while also continuing to support the 3DS. Without additional support coming from somewhere, we wonder how long the handheld's dedicated user-base will be able to continue to keep the device afloat.
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    Item Reviewed: The PS Vita Stands Strong in Face of Mobile Competition Rating: 5 Reviewed By: TheAuburnMan
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