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Just as console gaming caught up to and overtook traditional PC gaming, there are strong indications that tablets could be the next big gaming platform -- at least until the next-gen consoles reveal themselves.
Indeed, according to Gartner, worldwide sales of media tablets (iPads and Androids) rose from 17.6 million in 2010 to 63.6 million in 2011 and are expected to grow to 103.5 million this year and to 326.3 million in 2015.
And tech providers -- like mobile graphics provider Nvidia and engine provider Unity Technologies -- are doing all they can to supply developers with whatever they need to create games that challenge AAA console titles head-on -- as evidenced by some of the demos at the recent CES show.
"There's no doubt that we have under-utilized technology in the tablet space," says Ben Cousins, general manager of mobile developer Ngmoco Sweden.
"With the iPad 2 and some of the more powerful Android tablets, we've got devices that are approaching the power of the current generation of HD consoles -- and probably surpassing the Wii.
"I am convinced that this calendar year we will see tablets that match the power of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360... especially with the proposed power of the iPad 3 and with some of the upcoming chips from the big Android device chip makers."
Cousins also believes that, in addition to comparable horsepower, tablet games will run at higher screen resolutions -- exceeding 720p -- which is higher than many of today's HD console titles.
But in order to take on console games, developers need to stop making tablet games that are merely ports or HD versions of smartphone titles, he advises.
His research reveals tablets have completely different usage patterns than smartphones despite the fact that they run on the same OS and are made by the same manufacturers. Which is why their games need to be more like console or PC titles, he says.
"Tablet games need to be more involving, like console games... they need to serve customers who are using the device for longer periods of time than smartphones... they need to be adapted to their bigger screens, like console games... and they need to be more entertaining for longer, evening play periods, like console games," he explains.
"Unlike with a smartphone, based on the usage patterns we've seen from consumers, it's completely conceivable to have a fully immersive experience on a tablet akin to an Uncharted or a Skyrim."