How Important are Handhelds and Tablets in the Next Generation?

The Wii U has its tablet controller. The Xbox One has Smartglass. The PS4 has the Vita. We’ve seen in recent E3 announcements that using third party tablets could affect your friend’s gameplay experience, like in EA’s new Need for Speed game. The trend is obvious, the entire next generation of console gaming is being shaped by tablets and handheld devices.

Personally, the different ways these devices are incorporated into their respective consoles and games doesn’t interest me. I don’t see it as a selling point for any of the consoles. Why? For a couple of reasons.

First of all, I don’t own any of them. I don’t have a tablet, or Microsoft’s Smartglass, or a PlayStation Vita. Handheld gaming isn’t something that really interests me. In fact, I don’t even have a smart phone. If I was considering investing in one of these options the phone would be the way to go. It fits my needs better than the others. But any way you look at it this is a pricey decision to be making.

As we enter the next generation of console gaming a big concern for gamers is the price tag attached to each console. Both Microsoft and Sony have announced fair, and expected prices for their systems. However, the idea of spending more on top of that in order to get the corresponding handheld device makes me uneasy.

If I had that much money to spend I wouldn’t want it to go towards a handheld device that I’m buying to use with a console. A third party tablet could fill more uses, but not many, otherwise I would already have purchased one. Before even I consider buying a Smartglass or Vita I would purchase a smart phone, and hope that some of the connectivity of the devices will eventually spread to the mobile market.

But even before that I’d probably consider buying both the Xbox One and the PS4. Of course, I’m not willing to spend that much money on more than one of these devices, but I’d much rather have its counterpart than a gaming tablet.

It’ll be interesting to see how much you can really do with handheld devices and the next generation of consoles combined. So far we haven’t seen anything near the capabilities that both companies have hinted at. Maybe they will be more important than I expect, but so far the importance of handhelds and tablets seems minimal to me. Being able to check leaderboards and queue up matches on a tablet seems like a hassle, and not worth the big bucks these devices cost. Laying down traps in my friend’s matches of Need for Speed sounds fun, but not as fun as racing in the match myself. I’d rather just play my games than deal with a controller and a tablet at the same time.

Honestly, I feel like a controller in my hand will be enough for me to game, at least in the upcoming generation consoles. What do you think? How important is a tablet or handheld device to you in conjunction with your console? And have either Microsoft’s or Sony’s announcements regarding tablets and games influenced your choice in the console wars? Let us know in the comments below!