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What does the future of tablet gaming look like?
by Nick Jameson on 07/12/13 12:48:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

While a bit outdated, the 2011 Google Admob survey suggested that more than 84% of tablet PC owners use their device for playing games. To put this into comparison, 78% of owners use their tablets for searching information, 74% for emailing, 56% for 'socialising', 51% for listening music and watching videos, and 46% for reading eBooks.

The gaming statistics shouldn’t be taken as a surprise, as the app store charts clearly indicate the upward trending game download numbers with each passing day. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that since the arrival of tablet PCs in the market, the hard-core gaming industry has been shaking up somewhat. Tablet gaming is a surging industry, something that is making the gaming console makers anxious about the future. It is not just the mainstream gaming console companies that are getting affected, but also the high-end PCs have received a major setback with more number of users shifting to tablets for their day-to-day gaming needs.

The soaring revenues of games like Angry Birds, Temple Run, Subway Surfer, Fruit Ninja, Plants vs. Zombies and many others have posed a real threat to the gaming console manufacturers. Moreover, with some major game makers, like Electronic Arts, shifting its focus towards iPad’s and other tablets, the high-end console makers have become nervous about the future.

First of all, the upcoming tablet from Razer has taken the guts to challenge the hard-core gaming PC’s and consoles by adding the dual NUNCHUK controls on either side. The controllers are its biggest strengths as it helps in eliminating the annoyance of playing games via touchscreen, while keeping the handheld feel of the Tablet PCs intact.

Dubbed as Project Fiona, the Razer’s new gaming tablet is still in the prototype phase, but has a lot of potential. It runs on Windows 8 OS and is powered by a Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor. The nice thing about the Razer tablet is that it eliminates the need for an external case with extra controllers and keys, although there are now plenty of options for ipad keyboard cases, and there are arguably benefits to having a more versatile tablet with removable controllers that you can also use for other purposes besides gaming.

Meanwhile, the introduction of Imagination Technology’s PowerVR Series 6 Core GPUs has also given nightmares to the console makers. The GPUs are capable of generating some great results for the tablet gaming industry. The manufacturer promised superior performance exceeding 100 GigaFLOPS, which is close enough to the TeraFLOPS. This makes the PowerVR GPUs 20 times more powerful than the present day GPU’s, and provides 5 times more efficiency.

There is a buzz in the market that Apple is already eyeing on placing the Series 6 GPUs in the Apple iPad 3. Moreover, with the publishing of “Clickable and tactile buttons for touch surface” patent by Apple, the tablet gaming industry is all set to experience a bright future. Apple has come up with a basic idea to make tablet gaming all the more responsive and comfortable for the users. This patent, published by Apple recently, describes the use of accessories that can stick onto the iPad display, and utilise the buttons and a joystick-like device to engage the touch-sensitive areas.

Though there is still a good and a measurable gap between console and tablet gaming, it won’t be the same with the ever increasing popularity and availability of new tablet PCs and compatible games. However, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are not leaving the market any soon; even though the bits and pieces of information coming out every now and then are giving them a real headache.

2010 was a historic year when Apple brought tablets into the world of technology. The year 2011 and 2012 marked the arrival of struggling competitors in the tablet market. Now, 2013 and the years to come might witness the traditional gaming consoles being replaced by the up-and-coming gaming tablets. While the gaming console makers will try to be around for some time, it is a good time for them to begin investing in the future or risk their existence by falling behind.


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