Sony has hinted that it may be leaving the hand-held gaming market, stating that the popularity of smartphone-based games means the climate for a dedicated gaming device is not healthy.

Mobile gaming has long been popular, from the days of single-game LCD-based pocket titles through to Nintendo's incredibly successful Game Boy and Sega's battery-guzzling Game Gear. In recent years, though, the smartphone has begun supplanting dedicated devices for quick, on-the-go gaming - and with top-end smartphones boasting more processing power and memory than most hand-held consoles, it's not hard to see why. Nintendo's 3DS family continues to sell reasonably well well thanks to its focus on the family, though slower than its predecessor the Nintendo DS, but Sony's own Vita hasn't been doing so well - despite some clever tie-in features when the console is paired with Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles.

With the Vita getting a little old now, thoughts are turning to its next-generation successor - but comments made by Sony's Shuhei Yoshida suggest that such a successor may not appear, at least in the near future. 'People have mobile phones and it's so easy to play games on smartphones, and many games on smartphones are free, or free to start,' Yoshida explained in a question-and-answer session organised by Eurogamer. 'Touch-based games are fun - there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons make things totally different. So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues but the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming.'

Sony has been accused of largely abandoning the Vita, failing to publish interesting first-party titles and to tie up third-party publication deals even when the console was relatively new.
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