As the internet is kind enough to inform us, Panasonic has a great track record in the console market (3DOh dear, we all lose our jobs). Looking at the design of the thing (I know, it’s called the “Jungle”, but let’s not make matters worse by using that name), it seems that Panasonic made sure to get the best and brightest designers – from the 80ies. So why do they still have a shot?
All the handheld devices in the market so far are either focused on traditional console-like games (kind of the 21st century version of the GameGear) or they cater exclusively towards
casual gamers people who tend farms on facebook. For some reason no one ever thought of giving the people who spend $200 in subscriptions per year or $10 a month in micro-transactions a handheld for their favorite title. Panasonic probably thought that odd as well. Starting with Battlestar Galactica (BSG), their handheld is aimed at supporting MMORPGs.
Simply put, a lot of browser-based MMORPGs are a handheld’s dream come true. They often require time-sensitive input to avoid having your crops destroyed, your space fleet whacked or your baby dinosaur die. A device that will allow people to manage these things on the go would make virtual space-fleet-commanding and corn-harvesting a lot easier. There are quite a few gamers who would gladly pay good money to not have to schedule their work schedule around that of their virtual alter egos.
Furthermore, there already are quite a few MMORPGs that run on Linux using WINE, with EVE Online and World of Warcraft being prominent examples. Of course that’s not quite the same as running these games with WINE on the hardware of a handheld. However, it’s not that far fetched to think that other titles – or trimmed down versions thereof – are scheduled for an appearance on Panasonic’s new device already. Once Panasonic shows publishers that a mobile client can result in additional micro-transactions for game operators, they might suddenly find themselves in a very neat market position.