Razer and Qualcomm Want in on the Mobile Gaming Action
The partnership between Razer and Qualcomm — the one that has yielded the G3x Gen 1 gaming platform — is fascinating for many reasons. At its very core, it tells us that both companies want in on the mobile gaming action and are looking for new and unique ways to approach this lucrative (and relatively nascent) form of entertainment.
And, well, they’re not the only ones.
Mobile gaming has been around for a while, but it has never shown as much potential as it does now. The devices we use to game are incredibly powerful (more so than most people realize) and are ubiquitous. Everyone has some mobile phone in their pocket, regardless of whether they’re into gaming or not. That, in turn, means that everyone is a potential gamer and could, theoretically, take out their wallets and spend on an in-game cosmetic item, a chest, a premium event pass, or what have you.
This potential we’re talking about is astounding, and, well, most companies are well aware of it. That’s why they’re all creating bespoke gaming phones, tablets, peripherals, and basically, anything they can come up with that has the potential to sell well.
Today’s most popular titles are free to download and play, but they always offer a bit of extra for those willing to spend a few bucks. And, according to all available data, the number of people willing to spend is astronomical — hence the mind-boggling amounts of revenue.
So it should come as no surprise that Razer and Qualcomm, two companies that are already invested in the field — either through gaming products or chipset manufacturing — want to generate even more buzz and, at best, create a new product category out of thin air.
Whether they’ll succeed, however, still remains to be seen. Their motivation is clear, but one could argue that their approach leaves a bit to be desired.
The allure of mobile gaming comes precisely from its portable nature. You always have a phone with you, regardless of whether you’re on a long commute, standing in line at the post office, or going on a trip. The ability to use that same device for Wild Rift, PUBG, or Hearthstone game is why portable gaming consoles died out — they couldn’t compete from a practical standpoint.
Why carry two devices instead of one? Now sure, full-fledged portable consoles have physical controls and are, therefore, endlessly more enjoyable to use. Still, most folks don’t need two thumbsticks and a comprehensive set of buttons for their gaming endeavors.
They want a thin, beautiful slab that’s packed with the latest and greatest internals, a beefy battery to last them through the day, and a jaw-dropping screen that’ll make the content they consume as vivid as possible — with the deepest of blacks and the highest of contrast ratios.
That is why this partnership between Razer and Qualcomm is so… peculiar. They aim to create a new kind of device, one that would suffice for gaming and streaming — even though no one’s been clamoring for it. We all want physical buttons, but we’d rather go with touch controls — as finicky and imprecise as they are — than carry around a secondary device that’s a lot more limited in functionality.
Now, to their credit, they did go all out specs-wise: 5G mmWave support, USB-C (with display out), 120Hz, HDR, OLED, Snapdragon sound, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, a 1080p webcam, and whatever else. These are all amazing features, but they won’t result in a device that’ll replace your phone. This is a niche product and very few games will support it. For those that don’t, you’ll have to map each physical button to an on-screen one — a tedious process, one that may or may not result in a satisfactory experience.
Finally, there’s the question of price. A device with so many bells and whistles cannot be cheap. If it’s over $300, then you might as well use those funds and purchase a better mobile phone or, heck, an OLED Nintendo Switch. If so few titles are optimized to harness the inherent strengths of this novel “gaming platform,” then of what use is it? Any video game for home consoles, PC, or mobile devices is designed for the “lowest common denominator.” In this case, it is a monolithic slab with a huge screen and touch controls.
That does vary from title to title, but the point still stands. These games will always be designed for touch first, which, in a way, makes the G3x Gen 1 platform sort of redundant. In other words: if a game is designed for a touch-based control scheme, adding physical buttons to the equation will make your gaming experience slightly more enjoyable — it won’t necessarily give you an upper hand over your opponents.
Unless, of course, you want to experience your favorite mobile games on a bespoke device with physical buttons regardless of how much it might cost. Then you’re surely watering at the mouth, knowing that a deluge of such products is imminent.
Gaming on the Cloud
Another big selling point of this platform is its support for cloud gaming. So if you’re super into services like GeForce NOW, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and the like, this kind of device might be worth your while. Better yet, you’ll be able to stream games directly from your home console or PC.
Does such a thing warrant a separate device, though? A Razer Kishi ($99.99) would be a lot more practical — and a ton cheaper. Alternatively, you could go with a SteelSeries Stratus and the SmartGrip accessory (sold separately).
That’s perhaps the biggest hurdle that Razer and Qualcomm will face with this whole undertaking: they have to convince people that a bespoke gaming device — one that can easily be replaced with a basic
Bluetooth controller and a clip-on accessory — is worth their money. And that, in short, is highly debatable.