An Xbox handheld? Don't ruin the peace.
1st Feb 2011 | 18:59
The world of gaming can be a nasty place. The internet seems to highlight the worst bits; full of bickering, flaming and criticism, it's a cruel world. Just ask Treyarch.
I suppose that's what happens when you take a bunch of passionate and opinionated folk and cram them in the same cyberspace together. Of all the Holy realms of geekdom, gaming seems to be the one where the old saying, "You can't please everyone" rings particularly true.
To tell the truth, I expected all out war this past couple of weeks.
We've seen the battle lines in the handheld market form, as both Sony and Nintendo whip their weapons from their holsters and let them glisten in the sunlight for all to see. (I'm talking about 3DS and NGP, by the way. I know how you lot like to make things dirty.)
Except, there's been a kind of joyous harmony at play. The two mighty competitors have stepped into the coliseum... only to be greeted with genuine and enthusiastic applause.
Strangely, there's been little in the way of fan-baiting, mockery or condemnation. We haven't even had any claims of an 'Epic fail' taking place. Whisper it, but it's almost been polite.
Oi! You lot! What's going on!?
We asked a biggie over the weekend: "Sony NGP vs. 3DS: Which will you buy?" It was a fair question, but demanded you pick aside. In all honesty, we awaited the outcome from the safety of the CVG nuclear bunker.
Instead of a verbal mushroom cloud, though, we got the likes of this from altitude2k: "Neither at launch, but definitely the NGP out of the two. Just more to my taste, especially the quality-looking lineup." - a perfectly reasonable, well explained opinion, and representative of the masses.
"3DS. Resident Evil Revelations. Starfox. Paper Mario.Yum yum," said razors edge with absolutely no attempt to bash the NGP at all.
"Prob the NGP. 3DS looks cool but, no not for me," pondered gobbybobby, giving props to both consoles.
"Neither," said The_KFD_Case with not a sniff of a swear. Fair enough.
When we cranked open our lead door, what should we see but a circle of cross-legged gaming fanatics singing 'Kumbayah'. The only flames were toasting confectionery. Brought a tear to the eye, it did.
It seems that rather than forge the next great gulf between gamers, the arrival of the NGP and the 3DS has actually brought us all together.
I guess the reason is simple: You Sony folk might not quite understand those Kirby loving kids, but you have to admit you'd like a peek at that fancy 3D screen. And those pixel-pinching, hardware whores might seem a bit full-on, Ninty nerds, but their line-up is looking pretty special (and you have to envy that second analogue stick...)
In fact, my biggest gaming surprise this month wasn't the sheer amount of tech packed into the NGP. It wasn't even how taken I was with my first eyes-on with the 3DS. It was that both Sony and Nintendo actually managed to come up with the goods.
Both entries into the next generation of portables - so far - have absolutely fulfilled potential and met the hype. The 3DS is no gimmick and the NGP is far more than a half-hearted PSP2.
The 3DS and the NGP are targeting opposite ends of the gaming spectrum, but they meet in the middle to push at least a few buttons in every gamer. It's a nice status quo, one where everyone is able to recognise the opposition but feel completely unthreatened and satisfied with their own choice.
In some miraculous, once in a lifetime achievement, together Sony and Nintendo have managed to please just about everyone. Except The_KFD_Case.
That's why the announcement of a dedicated gaming handheld from Microsoft would probably be the worst decision since Nick Clegg... erm... Well, since Nick Clegg.
While Nintendo would no doubt left to its own devices once again, quietly and successfully occupying its own unique 3D space, Sony would be forced to take up arms in retaliation to Microsoft thrusting any handheld Xbox in its NGP's face.
Slowly the divisions would begin to form once more; the colours would bleed away from neutral as Sony supporters claimed dibs on originality and Xbots shouted about Halo this and Gears that.
Aside from the commotion it would cause, there are serious market reasons for MS to stick with PC and home consoles. The NGP is looking like such a complete machine for the hardcore, filling the portable gap purposefully left by Nintendo so well, I just can't see what Microsoft could offer that would be worth disrupting the balance.
Then there'd be Apple to contend with, who wrapped the app gaming sector up rather neatly a long time ago with the iPod. And we all remember what happened when Microsoft tried to encroach on its fiercest rival in the US with Zune. Flop-tastic.
Microsoft makes a fantastic gaming product already, but there's no room for it around the warmth of this crackling campfire; no call for it in our harmonious handheld gathering of gamers.
Whilst I doubt the green team has much desire to join our peaceful portable party, if the Xbox crew do come snooping around, I vote we just silently stare deeply into the flames until they leave.
For now though... Marshmallow, anyone?