Nowadays only older people can remember mobile game consoles like the SEGA Game Gear or the Atari Lynx, the influence of these consoles on the industry was too small. Only the Gameboy from Nintendo - and the Playstation Portable among the “modern” handheld consoles - are known to today's generation of gamers. In any case, more and more players are using mobile devices again. This is due on the one hand to the smartphone and on the other hand to the courageous step by Nintendo to bring a console onto the market with the Switch that lets gamers take their game worlds with them wherever they go. Handheld consoles are very much in vogue.


Mobile games have been the trend in recent years

Despite powerful game consoles and sophisticated gaming PCs, a large number of gamers today play two-pronged, sometimes even three-pronged: at home at stationary game stations and on the go on the smartphone, handheld or the Nintendo Switch, which wants to be both at the same time. 

Mobile gaming has become an unmistakable trend over the last few years that hardly any gamer can escape. 

The handheld consoles, which are inefficient in comparison to stationary devices, are extremely strong in terms of entertainment value. Higher, further, faster, more beautiful: the eternal upward spiral of high-end consoles seems to be broken - only through, but also because of the Nintendo Switch. The big madness: players buy titles they already own for PC, Xbox or Playstation again, only to be able to play them on the go. 

It seems that in the past, players were literally longing for innovative gaming devices that offer more than the latest generation of graphics cards, memory or processors. Modern gamers no longer play, but they change their devices more often. First an hour of World of Warcraft on the PC to quickly complete some world quests, then over to the sofa to do a few laps on the streets of Great Britain in Forza Horizon 4, only to then quickly do the daily quests of Star Wars on the way to the bathroom - Complete the Galaxy of Heroes on your smartphone. Everyday gaming is timed quickly, well planned - and full of variety.  

With mobile games, the wish is usually the father of the thought: you could play on the bus, in grandma's living room, when the adults eat their herbal liqueur on the balcony or on the toilet, because nothing else is done except reading the newspaper. This freedom of thought to be able to gamble anytime and anywhere is seductive. The reality is then often simple: you play with the switch on the couch, on the television and if you are completely crazy, maybe in the bedroom. Otherwise, the extremely portable Nintendo Switch remains locked at home - because gamers have their smartphones when they are on the go. It's even more portable, it can use the Internet and even the phone.

The history of handheld games

In addition to all the many handhelds that are now considered buried, the Gameboy has held up well. Over the years, Nintendo has stuck to the “bone”, constantly redesigning, revising, and improving the device. Other console manufacturers have had far less luck with their projects: the Neo Geo Pocket: long gone. The initially highly praised Playstation Portable (PSP): no longer really there. SEGA's Game Gear, which in the meantime has even been given an innovative TV module: gone too. The Nokia N-Gage, a smartphone with a built-in game console: nothing started at all. With all the devices that have made it to market maturity in the past decades, it is easy to lose track of them. The really successful mobile consoles, however, can be counted on one hand. Provides an overview the history of handheld games, of course with a focus on the more popular handhelds from past and present days.

The myth of playing anywhere and anytime has survived over the years: you want to, you could - but you don't. If you look around in everyday life, only a few players play on the go. Or they do it in such a hidden way that they simply do not attract attention. Maybe because they don't want you to see them gambling.

The sales figures for high-performance game consoles are still excellent, but projects like the hybrid handheld “Nintendo Switch” show with the sales that gamers definitely have a weakness for underperformance. It's not bad, just different. Overall, breathtaking graphics and rich sound remain an unbeatable combination, even in times of mobile trends, which takes the wind out of the sails of almost every handheld console.

Powerful consoles like the Xbox One S force gamers to use the stationary screens: more and more often unintentionally.
Powerful consoles like the Xbox One S force gamers to use the stationary screens: more and more often unintentionally.

And yet players seem to rebel against purely stationary systems, sometimes through ignorance of new generations of consoles, sometimes through second purchases. Mobile gaming is becoming a kind of dogma, a conviction - similar to a freedom movement: Get away from the monitor!

Towards low-resolution mini displays with pixel graphics or ordinary high-end smartphones with WHQD resolution for many hundreds of euros. Yes, handheld consoles can be expensive these days because they are exclusive in their own way. 

You can also see it very pragmatically. If you own a lot of consoles, you can choose what to gamble on depending on your state of mind: sometimes here, sometimes there, whatever - anywhere. The trend will continue, also in the next year: because then new smartphones and tablets will appear again - and the Switch will be sold millions of times.