How It Works

The history of portable gaming

© Sony

1989

The Atari Lynx was the world’s first colour portable gaming system, but its reign was soon eclipsed by the legendary Nintendo Game Boy, which dominated for years to come.

1991

This year was all about the Sega Game Gear, which managed to become the trendy must-have item long before portable technology became fashionable.

1998

The Game Boy Color took many years to reach the masses, but sold by the bucketload. Even the hard-to-see screen did not deter the gaming community.

2003

Nokia wanted a piece of the action and launched N-Gage, which was an abject commercial and consumer failure. It never did recover enough ground to remain viable.

2004

The Nintendo DS demonstrated the company’s ambitions in the portable gaming market and was an instant smash.

2005

The Sony PSP proved that powerful console gaming was possible in a handheld device and received praise from critics, but to date has struggled to outsell the Nintendo DS.

2007

The iPhone was never purely a games console, but quickly became a foe to Nintendo and Sony, and has hurt sales from both consoles.

2009

The PSP Go is Sony’s attempt to shore up the flagging PSP range, but it has had limited success to date.

2010

Nintendo announce the first portable gaming device that will have a 3D display (allowing gamers to see depth of field and 3D games) but not require the use of 3D glasses, the Nintendo 3DS. It will be released worldwide in March 2011.

2011

Sony announce the official successor to the PSP, codenamed the NGP (Next-Generation Portable), boasting graphics almost equivalent to the PS3 and Xbox 360. Many critics point out that such an advanced portable console may come with a high retail price, while others suggest that the emergence of smart phones as gaming devices may mean that portable devices exclusively for gaming will soon be on the decline.