Think your cell phone is the future of gaming?

Call someone who cares.

click to enlarge Think your cell phone is the future of gaming? - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Think your cell phone is the future of gaming?

All hail the great and conquering cell phone. Behold its might and constantly updated features. Watch as the future of gaming is played on these marvelous devices. Then watch the unbridled fury of people trying to get through a first-person shooter on a touch screen only to have the game end prematurely. Why? Not because the player got frustrated with the tiny display and ham-fisted controls, but because the effing battery ran out!

Editor's note: Joe Bardi gives the smartphone player's side of the story here.

I had planned a wonderful argument about the quality of gaming at home, how the current dynamic (powerful hardware attached to a TV or video monitor) is what this generation is used to and will expect in the future, and how smartphones generally lack the functionality to allow for any amount of in-depth gaming. It’s a good argument, but it’s one I don’t need to make. This debate is ultimately about power and price, and on both points cell phones will always lose.

Face it, fanboys: Battery technology is insufficient to meet the demands of a phone-centric gaming culture. The most optimistic estimates are that batteries will soon (i.e., a few years) last 10 times as long as they do now. While that seems impressive, in order to support an actual gaming system and games — or even to access your growing collection of stupid cat videos from the cloud — your phone is going to need major hardware upgrades. The better the hardware, the more power that’s required to run it. Hell, this futuristic battery upgrade could arrive today and most of you would still bitch about how fast your iPhone goes dark.

Now let’s talk pricing. Here’s a hypothetical: Assume that new technology (better batteries, faster and smaller chips, etc.) arrives as expected, and that Apple (the current leader) wins the cell game and becomes the major player in a new iPhone-as-the-hub-of-everything market. So you now have an iHub3 as your source for everything you consume digitally, including games, books, movies, TV and video chats with your mom. How much does that cost? Next roll in the functionality (and cost) of a cable subscription, an X-box 360 and a Blu-ray player, then pile on the cost for all that bandwidth you are mysteriously going to use too much of while powering all these features.

When figuring the total cost of ownership, include hardware costs, the ever so reasonable monthly fee, and the price of all the actual content you have to re-buy in Apple’s proprietary formats, then top it off with that great “no dropped calls/amazing reception/superb customer service” cell phone experience you’ve had all your life.

Sounds like a dream future to me.

And that’s before they really start to milk you. Remember, right now in primitive 2012, it costs $80 (!) to have an iPhone battery replaced. And you have to get it professionally swapped, since you aren’t allowed to fix it yourself — opening the iPhone would void the warranty. (Don’t get me started on that …)

So don’t believe the hype. The home will remain the center of everyone’s personal media consumption empire, and your phone, while nice, will still only get in on the gaming action when you angrily throw it against the wall while playing games on a real video game system.

The Taco Bus is packed with eager taco hounds. Do you:

Wait it out?

Seek sustenance elsewhere?

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