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Mobile gaming is big. The past four years have not only changed the cell phone industry forever, but also the gaming industry. That doesn't mean you should go turn in your Xbox 360 for an iPad … yet, but maybe you should consider a smartphone or tablet over something like the PlayStation Vita or a Nintendo 3DS.

Tablets and smartphones may cost quite a bit more than dedicated gaming handhelds, but their functionality should more than make up for it. Not only that, but the games are cheaper – much cheaper. A large portion of iPhone and Android games are $0.99. At most, you will see a game selling for $15 in Apple's App store or Android market. Games for systems like the PSP Go are much more involved and will cost you up to $39.99 per game. The cheaper games offered in mobile app stores have certainly changed the consumer's opinion of how much a mobile video game is worth, and more people are transitioning to smartphones and tablets as a means of gaming on the go.

Games like Infinity Blade for the iPad show that gaming on tablets is actually a viable option, even for the hardcore gamer. The controls may be a little clunky and unwieldy at times, thanks to the inaccurate touchscreen. But the hardware is there and it's only getting better. The Android 3.1 update for tablets brought USB peripheral support; meaning, a PS3 or Xbox 360 controller can easily be mapped to work with the game of your choice. The process needs some tweaking and a large portion of developers have yet to support external peripherals, but with time this could flourish into a truly amazing mobile gaming experience.

GameStop recognizes this potential. A report from 9to5Mac claims that GameStop told dealers at a Las Vegas trade show that it plans to sell iPhones, iPads and iPods in the not too distant future. Although GameStop failed to comment after questioned by 9to5Mac, the whole idea isn't too far-fetched. Earlier this year, GameStop started accepting trade-ins on iOS devices at a select few stores. This plan is expected to spread nationwide by the end of 2011, says company President Tony Bartel.

The popular game shop doesn't plan to stop there, however. They apparently have plans to dive into the vicious tablet market themselves. A daring and bold move, considering the shortcomings of many Android (and other platforms') tablets on the market. Of course, they wouldn't start from scratch; GameStop plans to partner up with an existing OEMs to produce a superior mobile gaming experience, paired with a Bluetooth controller, that is, if partners can follow through.

Mobile gaming has taken some giant strides over the last two years, largely as a result of the iPad. The giant display found on tablets instantly offers a better end user experience over portable gaming consoles, and the possibility to pair the device with a full-sized controller makes it that much more worthwhile. With the rapid updates in hardware and internals, mobile gaming may eventually replace console gaming, given a few years to grow and adapt. Just imagine plugging your tablet into a TV via HDMI, pairing a couple of Bluetooth controllers and launching up Battlefield 4 (or 5). It seems crazy, I know. But you can't deny that with the breakneck pace of processor and graphics technology, this may ultimately be the future of console gaming. Or at least I hope it is …

It's both surprising and interesting to see one of the major players in the gaming industry jumping into the tablet market. This speaks volumes for the potential of tablets and what a mess they have made the gaming business for portable handhelds. I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for some hardcore, futuristic tablet gaming.

Image via Engadget


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