Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gaming's Next Wave?

From abysmal 8-bit graphics to fully 3D worlds on your cell phone, gaming has gone where just about nothing (except maybe Linux) has gone before. And that would be everywhere.

But no sooner does the gaming industry roll over the cell phone market than a brand new challenge appears. Coming soon, I have no doubt, to a website near you... triple A titles for ebook readers. At this stage, thanks to Barnes and Noble, it is inevitable.

A quick recap on the dedicated eBook market as it stands today (and ignoring the legacy devices still sold by some publishers). There are basically three players: Amazon, Sony, and now Barnes and Noble. The interesting thing is that Barnes and Noble has decided to base their new entry into the race on Google's Android OS. Android, as I'm sure you know, is largely Google's answer to the iPhone and the iPod Touch, which are now being hailed by Apple as gaming devices on the same level as the PSP. In short, that means we now have an eBook reader that is backed by a somewhat open operating system that will no doubt become a significant focus of mobile game developers. The only problem is that screen.

Ebook reader screens are not exactly high performance, color drenched devices. They focus on battery life and being easy on the eyes, not accurate renderings of oozing alien guts. So, how will game developers adapt to low refresh rate, black and white screens? Excellent question. Other than text-based and puzzle games, I haven't a clue. But someone will do it. And when one studio goes there successfully, other will follow. And, in time, if the eBook reader succeeds on the market, gaming will adapt and the ebook space will become as saturated and competitive as the cell phone game market is now. This newest evolution of the video game might be the most interesting and creatively demanding one yet. It should be fun to watch.

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