Not your father's Game Boy: A look into portable gaming consoles in 2023 | Opinion

Not your father's Game Boy: A look into portable gaming consoles in 2023

As players increasingly seek the freedom to play wherever they go, the demand for portable gaming consoles is on the rise.

| Updated on: Jun 17 2023, 10:55 IST
gaming console
The best portable gaming console for a gaming fan’s needs all depends on where he/she wants to use it. (Pexels)
gaming console
The best portable gaming console for a gaming fan’s needs all depends on where he/she wants to use it. (Pexels)

The explosive growth of the gaming industry can be largely attributed to the increasing appeal of video games, especially among younger generations. Among the wide array of gaming options available, portable gaming consoles have emerged as a particularly sought-after choice due to their remarkable advantages, including unrivaled portability.

With the ability to be carried anywhere, these handheld devices provide users with the freedom to indulge in gaming experiences on the go, whether they're commuting, traveling, or simply enjoying some downtime. Notably, portable gaming consoles seamlessly blend the convenience of offline gameplay with the option to connect to the internet, enabling players to access multiplayer modes, online communities, and download new content.

Moreover, these consoles excel in their compact and lightweight design, setting them apart from their larger counterparts found in homes, while still delivering immersive gaming experiences with impressive graphics and gameplay.

With a portable console market currently worth $15 billion and projected to reach $27 billion by 2033, it is not surprising to see more and more gaming companies investing in this industry, creating devices that enable gameplay without the need for a television.

Recently, Sony has surprised video game enthusiasts with the announcement of their new device, Project Q. Although it is not a conventional gaming console, this device promises to revolutionize the way gamers enjoy their favorite games through cloud streaming.

Project Q is a device that exclusively connects to the internet and features an eight-inch touchscreen on which all the content stored in our PlayStation account is played. This means that players will have access to their latest purchases on PS4 and PS5, as well as the entire PlayStation Plus catalog, which includes classic games from different console generations.

The device's screen will be limited to a 1080p resolution, and it is highly likely to have Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing gamers to enjoy their games without lag issues and with exceptional sound and image quality. Additionally, there is speculation that it might also offer the option to use mobile data, enabling anyone within range of cellular service to play anywhere, even without stable Wi-Fi access.

One of the standout features of Project Q is its controllers, which will be similar to the PS5's DualSense. According to Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan, the gaming experience will be virtually identical to playing on the console from the comfort of a couch.

As for the price, Project Q is estimated to cost around USD$600. While this may seem high for a streaming device, it is important to consider that other similar models, such as the Steam Deck or Logitech G Cloud, have similar prices due to the features they offer.

Differences between Project Q and the Nintendo Switch

Although both the Switch and Project Q aim to allow players to enjoy their games anywhere, they have different approaches. On one hand, Project Q relies on cloud game streaming technology, meaning the device connects to the internet and plays games stored in the user's PlayStation account. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console that combines a handheld unit and a dock for playing on the TV. Games are downloaded or played from physical cartridges.

Additionally, the Nintendo Switch boasts an impressive selection of exclusive games, including popular franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon. It is also compatible with a wide range of third-party games. As for Project Q, players will be able to access their PlayStation purchases, including games from PS1, PS2, PSP, and PS3, in addition to the latest titles from PS4 and PS5. However, it has not been revealed yet whether Project Q will have exclusive games.

Portable gaming consoles to watch in 2023

As players increasingly seek the freedom to play wherever they go, the demand for portable gaming consoles is on the rise. From the iconic Game Boy to the modern Steam Deck, these portable devices allow gamers to enjoy their favorite games while on the move. The evolution of portable gaming consoles reflects players' constant desire to play at their convenience, especially those who prefer the ease of handheld devices.

Nintendo Switch

Serving as an inspiration for many of the latest portable gaming consoles, the Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular gaming consoles of all time. The Switch OLED is the upgraded version with improved gaming performance and display.

Whether they choose the OLED version or the Lite version of the Switch, there is a vast library of games gamers can play on the go with this portable console. Additionally, when they're not on the move, the docking system allows them to play on the television without the need for additional cables. The price of the Nintendo Switch starts from USD $199 for the Lite version, while the more comprehensive version Switch OLED costs USD $349.

Steam Deck

This device is more than just a gaming console; it also functions as a portable PC. Users can play a wide variety of games from video game distributor Steam, but they can also install emulators like RetroArch to play older games. Its battery can last up to eight hours, and it offers a quick suspend and resume feature for gaming activity.

The seven-inch screen and moderately lightweight design of 1.5 pounds make the Steam Deck one of the top gaming consoles available. Demonstrating its versatility, this console can also be paired with a docking station, allowing users to play on the TV with a wireless controller. The price of the Steam Deck starts from USD $399, and although the wait and price are long, they are worth the console's quality.

Asus ROG Ally

The Asus ROG Ally may not be the "Steam Deck killer" most gaming fans expected, but it is currently the best Windows-based portable console on the market.

This seven-inch portable console features a 120Hz display and a powerful new AMD APU processor based on Zen 4. It also has the official backing of Xbox and the ability to play any Windows-compatible game right from the start, theoretically surpassing Steam Deck. However, better specifications on paper don't always translate to a better gaming experience.

The 1080p display offers sharp visuals and smooth refresh rates. Games can also run at 60 frames per second or higher thanks to the new Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor. Additionally, the ergonomic design of the portable console makes it comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time.

Despite its virtues, the Asus ROG Ally fails to surpass the Steam Deck. Yes, it has a sharper screen and a faster processor, but the improvements it offers are debatable, especially when games need to run at 720p to achieve nominally better performance.

The worst part is the lack of a dedicated user interface like SteamOS. The Asus Armoury Crate app does a decent job of gathering games in one place, but it is not as intuitive or functional as Valve's operating system which powers Steam. Pricing for the Steam Deck will depend on the storage configuration, but the cost starts at USD $399.

How to choose the best portable gaming console

The best portable gaming console for a gaming fan's needs all depends on where he/she wants to use it. If a player wants something pocket-sized that they can play anywhere, the ROG Phone 5 is the smallest and most versatile device on the market. If they want to split their gaming time between home and travel, the Nintendo Switch is likely the best choice, as they can connect it to a TV.

Price is also a factor to consider. While the options mentioned above are gaming-focused, it is true that there are other devices that also work for the same purpose, such as the iPad Air or the ROG Phone. However, if you are looking for a dedicated gaming device, then a Nintendo Switch could be the best option, and its Lite variant is much more affordable, albeit with limitations in its features.

By Stiven Cartagena, GeekTime

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First Published Date: 17 Jun, 10:54 IST