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Why don't portables get more respect?

Steven Bailey

The DS sells more than most consoles. The PSP has some games that look better than many PS2 games. Despite this, there are few magazines or websites devoted to portables. When the web or a mag do focus on a portable, it always seems to be to a lesser degree. If you need any proof, just look at the number of portable games that go un-reviewed compared to consoles. But when the sales are up as is the quality of the games, why do handhelds still get shafted?

They're a substitute

It seems as though some gamers and press view portable games as a substitute for "real" gaming. Just something to pass the time when you're somewhere unpleasant and unable to play a console game. While it is true that the very nature of a portable game is to give you gaming on the go, it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't as fun or as valuable of a gaming experience as console games. Anyone who's gotten sucked into Lumines or Vice City Stories for hours can attest to that.

Kid Stuff

While it's true that many games aimed for children have been released for portables through the years, there's no shortage of great games for any age. Especially this generation of portables, it seems more and more portables are aiming their sights for older gamers. Brain Age, Metal Gear and GTA are proof enough that in no way are portables just for the playground.

Less vocal fan community

One thing that hurts the portable gaming community is that despite the great sales for systems and games, the fan community is far less vocal than the typical console fan base. Of course part of this seems to be self perpetuating since if there aren't many online or print sources for portable gaming, there are obviously less places for those fans to express their feelings.

Not as many huge titles

Some would say that the portables lack blockbuster titles and that is why they garner less attention. This hardly seems like a good excuse though since at this point nearly every blockbuster franchise has a version on handhelds. From Metal Gear to Mario, if there is a big game on a console there is typically a counterpart on the portable. Not only that, but some portable games consistently sell better than most console games.

So while there may be no good reason portables get overlooked, it does seem like they're on there way to reversing this fate. With the increased importance of blogs and forums in the gaming world, it seems like only a matter of time before portable games do get the equal respect they deserve. Until then, the average gamer may just be too busy playing their PSP to even care.

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