Opinion: Are Handheld Portable Gaming Systems Dead?

We seem to be at an impasse when it comes to mobile gaming with Nintendo dedicating their future on their portable console hybrid the Switch, Sony abandoning the PSP and smartphone operating systems iOS and Android thriving on their platforms. Are the days of dedicated handheld portable gaming consoles dead?

// Nintendo

When Nintendo announced the Switch in 2017, it looked like they were ready to move on from its more portable 2/3DS that was the successor to its Game Boy line. The company further drove the nail into the 2/3DS coffin when it announced the Nintendo Switch Lite, which scraps the option of HDTV hook up for a sleeker and smaller system. Support for the 2/3DS is flatlining as the Big N has all but made its death official.


Nintendo's biggest strength to compete against the smartphone platforms is the quality of titles on its dedicated system. Sony realized porting PlayStation 2 games to the PSP Vita and other existing third-party support wasn't enough to justify further expenditure. Sony and Microsoft are interested in keeping their course in the home console market expanding on their platforms in the PlayStation 5 and Scarlet. Neither will be mobile like the Switch.

What's the future for the market? Sega was Nintendo's former competitor when they abandoned hardware support in 2001. With Sony's abandonment of the PSP Vita in March 2019, Google Stadia is cross-platform cloud gaming service with support for Chromecast, iOS, and Android, but it's not a dedicated device.


With the ease of development and market penetration of smartphones, is it viable for dedicated companies to make portable gaming devices anymore? Nintendo's embraced the mobile market releasing their franchises on iOS and Android like Pokémon, Dr. Mario, Mario Kart, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing.

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Perhaps, in the end, synching a smartphone or a table to a controller is all that's really needed and the age of the portable gaming system only survives with Nintendo. Will there be another dedicated competitor to handheld gaming market after Nintendo or has smartphones and tablets killed off any further potential?

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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