Although milton-Bradley Microvision was the first handheld console with interchangeable game features, in 1979 most other companies were still selling devices loaded with individual games. These include the popular Nintendo Game & Watch series, launched in 1980. These devices were designed by Gunpei Yokoi, a maintenance engineer who, on a chance visit to the factory where Yokoi worked, impressed the President of Nintendo with his homemade toys. Yokoi became Nintendo's leading designer and helped shape the company into the gaming giant we know it today.
Yokoi's Game Boy was released by Nintendo in 1989. It has a monochrome display and simple technology that helps prolong battery life. It was bundled with games such as Super Mario Land and Tetris, which were hugely popular and made Game Boy an instant success.
Nintendo's rivals Atari and Sega introduced consoles around the same time. Both the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear were more advanced than the Game Boy, including more powerful graphics and color displays. Power comes at a cost, though, as both consoles are bulkier than the Game Boy and have much shorter battery life. Battery life is made worse by Game Gear's unusual TV tuner add-on, which can turn your console into a portable TV...
As technology developed in the 1990s, consoles became lighter and more advanced. Nintendo finally entered the Color Game space in 1998 with the Game Boy Color, fending off competitors including the SNK Neo Geo Pocket and Bandai Wonderswan -- the last Nintendo product yokoi designed.
Nintendo continues to release new versions of its console, each aimed at improving the format; From the Game Boy Advance (2001) and the flip screen Game Boy Advance SP (2003) to the Tiny Game Boy Micro with a 5cm screen (2005).
Around this time, with the launch of Nokia n-Gage in 2003, the mobile phone market began to try to get involved. In an attempt at a hybrid between a phone and a game console, the phone falls short on either front. The battery had to be removed to replace the cartridge, and the button layout made the game difficult. The phone will continue to use Snake for several years.
With the release of the DS, Nintendo finally launched the Game Boy brand in 2004. Dual-screen display opens new gameplay; There are still 10 variations of the format today. This includes the 3DS, released in 2011, which allows 3D gaming without glasses.
SONY, meanwhile, has its own plans to enter the handheld market, launching the PSP (PlayStation Portable) in early 2005. With high-quality graphics and the backing of big-name game developers, many see this as a real challenge to nintendo's dominance of handheld consoles. The PSP and its successor, the Vita, launched in 2011 with some success, but around 2008, along with Nintendo's consoles, they faced the biggest shift in portable gaming since the Game Boy was released nearly 20 years earlier...
In 2007, Apple released the first iPhone, and a year later, they opened the App Store. Now people can start downloading games directly to their phones. Angry Birds was released the following year, and soon casual games were shaping the industry. Thanks to games like Candy Crush and Pokemon Go timed events, freemium and microtransactions are now common in many games.
Mobile games are often overlooked compared to "core" console games, but smartphone and tablet games accounted for 51 percent of global gaming revenue in 2018, or about $70 billion. Mobile games also seem to make it easier for women to play. Forty-nine percent of mobile gamers are female, compared to 41 percent of gamers as a whole.
But the handheld console story doesn't end there. In 2017, Nintendo released the Switch. A hybrid console that docks to the home gaming screen or can be used in "tablet mode", giving people the flexibility to play games at home and on the go. The Switch is seen by many as a return to form for Nintendo, and in tablet mode, it's easy to see what it's been like since 1980 with their first Game & Watch handheld device.