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Can Handhelds Compete with Mobile Gaming?

Updated on by in Gaming

When most people imagine video games, they picture a world of highly competitive eSports. They probably see players glued to their screens as they feverishly tap away at keyboards or controllers, eyes tracking the movement. They’re probably wearing headphones or have a microphone to communicate with teammates.


In other words, the stakes are high – or that’s what the average person imagines. In reality, video games come in all shapes and sizes. Even casual mobile games count, from word puzzles to relaxing simulators. These tiny hits have opened up the boundaries of gaming, revolutionizing the industry.

That revolution is based on things like accessibility, a lower learning curve, and relaxation—not the hard-and-fast world of competitive gaming. Over the last five years, mobile gaming has quietly taken over. It now leads the gaming world in terms of revenue and use.

This has brought up the question, is the future of gaming based on handhelds? Let’s explore.

Building on the Mobile Hype

As outlined above, the mobile industry has invigorated the gaming world with new interests and habits. By far one of the best things about mobile is the breadth of options available. Casino games, for example, aren’t typically associated with consoles or PCs. Instead, most players access games like slots, blackjack, and roulette from their browsers or mobile devices.

The mobile gaming movement has only helped popularize hits like slots, which are now the world’s most popular casino titles. While classic choices like blackjack and roulette remain popular for those who like strategy and analysis, slots are much more direct and offer a more diverse range of exciting themes. Beyond the scope of casinos, mobile devices have also opened the doors to new interests. As mentioned up top, casual puzzles and relaxing simulators are two popular genres that players didn’t have access to before.

But handhelds aren’t quite the same as mobile phones. So, let’s dig a bit deeper.


Steam Deck Delivers PC Power

A handheld is a gaming console that fits in a gamer’s hands. They’re designed to be geared toward use on-the-go, freeing gamers from console and PC setups. So far, there are two main contenders: the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck. The Switch, which we’ll cover below, bridged the worlds of consoles and handhelds by allowing players to hook up their devices to a larger screen.

But the Steam Deck is a more faithful iteration of PC gaming. The hardware is a bit heftier, as it delivers the same gaming experience as a PC. Since its release, the Steam Deck has seen mixed reviews from critics and users. But the hiccups have largely been ironed out, paving the way for new releases.

Some estimates place the total sales of Steam Decks at around 3 million units since its 2022 release. The Switch, by contrast, has sold around 20 million since its release in 2017. The success of the Steam Deck highlights the fact that more hardcore gamers are interested (and invested) in the handheld movement.

Waiting for the Next Switch to Drop

In 2025, Nintendo will release its second generation of the Nintendo Switch. Together, the Switch and the Steam Deck mark the paragon of the handheld experience. But it’s unclear whether they have the power to divert gamers from a PC gaming experience or a console gaming experience.

In other words, will handhelds replace consoles or PCs? Probably not anytime soon. However, it’s likely that they’ll help foster a new form of competitive gaming. At the moment, eSports are starting to take off in the mobile realm. As outlined above, smartphones are the most accessible gaming hardware, which means any player can start competing in the hopes of going pro.
It would make sense to compare handheld and mobile gaming trends, especially based on things like pricing, accessibility, and global reach. However, these sectors don’t necessarily overlap in terms of games.

As outlined above, handhelds function like mini-PCs and mini-consoles, which means their software isn’t compatible with every mobile game. The same is true vice versa. Because of this distinction, it’s more likely that mobile and handhelds will continue to evolve in parallel to one another, each geared toward a different gaming experience.

Author: Daisy Smith
Daisy Smith is a professional writer for

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