Qualcomm games

Mobile processors such as the latest NVIDIA Tegra or Qualcomm Snapdragon chips already offer pretty impressive graphics performance. They can handle 1080p HD video playback and 3D graphics acceleration and companies are working on adding features like shadow-and-lighting effects.

While there are some pretty impressive games available for mobile devices, they still don’t really hold a candle to the titles you can find for dedicated gaming consoles such as the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3… yet. But chip maker Qualcomm envisions a future where mobile devices do replace dedicated consoles.

The idea is that you would be able to connect your phone or tablet to a TV, maybe hook up a game controller, and play through high quality games. You could carry your gaming system in your pocket and play games while you’re riding a bus or play on a big screen while you’re at home — or at a friend’s home.

I’m a bit skeptical, because Qualcomm’s strength is in making low-power chips that offer long battery life. The makers of graphics chips for gaming consoles that you plug into a wall jack will always have an advantage because they don’t have to make energy-sipping processors. Then again, there’s increasing demand for low power home appliances, so perhaps we could see a similar trend in gaming consoles in the future. It costs less money to run low power devices, and it’s better for the environment.

While games designed for the latest low power ARM-based mobile chips look better than PC and console games from a few years ago, I don’t imagine the chip designers working on the next-generation gaming consoles are going to sit still. But progress tends to be slower in the dedicated console market than the mobile market. New mobile chips tend to hit the streets every year or so, while game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 are meant to last for around half a decade.

Qualcomm is also making the case that developers will largely move from console and PC games to mobile because it’s cheaper and easier to develop for mobile platforms while there’s a lot of money to be made — even though mobile games for Android, iOS, and other recent platforms tend to sell for $0.99 to $9.99 rather than the $50 to $60 game makers charge for console games.

What do you think? Do you see mobile phones and tablets replacing dedicated gaming consoles one day?

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2 replies on “Qualcomm: Mobile devices could one day replace video game consoles”

  1. The makers of graphics chips for gaming consoles that you plug into a wall jack will always have an advantage because they don’t have to make energy-sipping processors.

    If you have a read of Shippy and Phipps’ The Race for a New Game Machine: Creating the Chips Inside the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3, you’ll find that in fact low power usage was a primary requirement of the CPU, as important (possibly more) than processing power.

    It’s also interesting to note that game developers are not always keen on having more graphics ability: as the graphics get better, the art gets more expensive.

    I see it as perfectly reasonable that one day dedicated consoles such as the PS3 will be mostly replaced by something like an iPad, which we’d just plug into the TV via HDMI to watch films and play games, using a wireless controller just like the PS3s. After all, people don’t bring CDs to a party any more, they just bring their iPod and plug it in to the stereo.

    That said, I’m not sure if something of the power of a PS Vita would really cut it for this; I’m suspecting that we’re still 3-5 years from our tablets and phones being PS3 replacements.

  2. I’d say Yes.
    For example geocaching is getting some attention recently, in Poland at least.
    IMO Augmented Reality will take games a level or two higher.

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