Do "console smartphones" deserve a second chance?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
So this is going to be one of those articles where a dreamer can dream and, quite frankly, might just never happen. But that doesn't mean that it can't make for a good conversational topic amongst readers, so here's to hoping that it doesn't sound too far-fetched.
As many of you know, as well as many of you don't, along with reading up and experimenting with the joys of smartphones I also do a bit of gaming on the side. I've always enjoyed video games from an early age, from watching my older brother play Super Mario Bros. on the NES to growing up and being part of that weird group of people that talk about how great the raid was last Friday. It's not exactly something I do often anymore with parenting and working being more important elements of my life, but on the occasional weekend I do become one of "those" people. Nothing alleviates stress better than swinging a virtual sword at some unsuspecting critter gallovanting around in the forest, and then collecting goods like a "Broken Tooth" and the 3 silver pieces it managed to stow away, probably from the last poor sap it mercilessly slaughtered. The point here is, I like games.
I like games, and I like smartphones. I like games because they're fun, and I like smartphones because they've become these little powerhouses that I can stick in my pocket or purse. As a result, I happen to think that it might be time to create another console smartphone. I think it might be time for them to actually succeed.
It's been done once before. It actually shares a similar name with a popular flagship device on the market now. The Sony Xperia Play was an Android smartphone that was released sometime back in 2010, and when I heard about it I absolutely fell in love with the idea. The Sony Xperia Play was a perfect mix of Andriod-y and Playstation-y goodness. Instead of having a slide-out keyboard, you had a slide-out controller that was about as close to a Playstation controller as you can get while still making it compact enough to make it look and feel like a smartphone when you weren't gaming. In my opinion it was (and still is) a brilliant idea, but with it being the first of its kind and using such early adaptions of Android there were definitely some snags that kept it from getting very popular. Namely, the fact that there wasn't a very good game selection, the phone was overpriced and only offered on one major carrier is probably what killed it.
It's been 3 years since the Sony Xperia Play came out, and since then there really hasn't been anything like it. There does seem to be some conscious effort from graphics company NVIDIA to try and associate Android with more intense gaming, but in my opinion a device like the NVIDIA Shield just isn't as convenient as the Xperia Play was when it come to combining a mobile platform with graphically intense video games. It's a good start, but I am hoping to see the device size down a bit and perhaps even try to remake something similar to the Xperia Play again.
I can't lie, I would be all over the idea of a Nintendo smartphone. Sony and Nintendo are already pretty good at making handheld devices for gaming anyway. Sony pretty much already has all their ducks in a row to try again if they wanted, and Nintendo could probably just partner up with somebody and come out with some insane device. Release a couple of revamped versions of the Legend of Zelda and a couple of new Mario games and bam. You're pretty much set. Alright, so maybe it's not that easy, but I do think there is room in the market for an iteration of two of smartphone/console hybrid. It's been nearly three years since the first one came out, and with graphics, processors, RAM and batteries having improved I would almost say now is the perfect time to try the model out again. I know I would be interested in a device like that. I already absentmindedly browse Facebook and other social networks sometimes when looking to pass some time, but which sounds more exciting: browsing Facebook or throwing some innocent bystander out of his car and stealing it so I can run around town and break as many laws as I can within ten minutes in Grand Theft Auto? My thoughts exactly. Well, unless you were thinking Facebook sounded more fun, in which case those weren't my thoughts exactly.
Either way, I just think it would be cool to see the idea attempted again with all of the advancements that have been made since the Xperia Play was made. What are your thoughts, readers? Would you be interested in a console smartphone, or do you think that the idea is a little too far-fetched and niche to ever catch on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!