PC Handhelds and the Mobile Casino Equation
With the upcoming release of Valves’ new PC handheld, the Steam Deck, the idea of PC games on mobile devices is being taken more seriously than ever. Though not a new concept, mainstream technology finally catching up with demand could have significant implications for the future of the market. Looking at a similar direction taken by online casinos on their shifts to mobile, we could see some indication of what this new level of cooperation could mean for the greater gaming ecosystem.
The Modern Landscape of Online Casino Gaming
Modern casinos websites built their basis on the likes of online bingo, slots, blackjack, roulette, and much more. These were traditionally tied to PC and laptops, as these were the first systems to offer online access. As smartphones became more common, new opportunities presented themselves, and so the casino developers adapted.
Over time, online casino websites adopted new programming technology like HTML5 to better scale to mobile systems. Eventually, mobiles became such an important part of browsing that casinos would sometimes target these devices first, to ensure the best possible user experience. What was more transformative, however, was the changes to the games.
Before 2010, almost all casino games were designed for mouse and keyboard support for play and navigation. When mobiles entered the conversation, older user interfaces became obsolete, often too cluttered to be used successfully with smartphones and tablets. This caused a redesign of thousands of different titles to create games that were equally playable no matter what system the user started from. Should PC-based handhelds prove popular, it’s conceivable that video gaming might see a similarly wide shift.
What Could Happen to Gaming?
In most ways, playing games on the Steam Deck and other PC gaming handhelds is the same as playing with a controller on a desktop. Since we’ve reached an era where controller support is extremely common and successful, input is unlikely to see too much of a change.
What could be more likely is a reshuffling of UI elements if the game detects it’s being run in mobile mode, similar to what casino games went through, only on a more optional basis. Running at even 1080p on a handheld screen means UIs can often scale poorly, making it difficult to read important information like health bars or ammo counts. If popular enough, it’s workable that in-built toggles could address this issue, increasing the size of visual components to a level that would be untenable on monitors, but necessary on handhelds.
It’s also possible that handhelds might come with different settings to better cater to decreased handheld performance. PC games already offer settings choices for options like antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, and shadow resolution, but handheld systems could take this concept a step further. Handheld toggles could also further reduce physics complexity and other background components to ensure handhelds could hit the all-important 60fps mark, at least in theory.
As for the odds of these handhelds making such broad changes to the greater market, that depends on the success of the handhelds and the will of the developers. If the handhelds fail, then reprogramming games is a waste of money. If developers consider this arm of the market unimportant, again, they might ignore the effort. However, the best comes to term. Then don’t be surprised to see video games take the same route that online casinos did around 2010.