These days it is extremely rare to go without using your phone for even a day or two. The tech packed inside the latest phones has bought so much fun and information to our fingertips and they have evolved from previously being a mere communications device into a full on entertainment centre. You can enjoy music, internet browsing, chatting and playing a wide variety of games anywhere, any time..
The most popular mobile games today include Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. The majority of game loving mobile phone users have at some point played one or both of these games. Many hard core gamers are noticing that even if they are an avid games console user, mobile phone games are increasingly taking a lot of their gaming time that would have otherwise been spent playing console games.
The annual research report by the ESA stated that 35% of regular gamers played games on their smart phones instead of a games console.
With the evolution of handhelds and mobile devices, the way we play games has also been transformed to a significant extent. We no longer have to sit in front of a TV Screen or PC. There is no need to buy devices for the sole purpose of gaming and carry them around (As you have probably guessed, we are talking about GBA and PSP.)
It does not suggest that the gamers have completely moved on to smart phones, and are not buying consoles anymore. For instance, of all the households that own devices for gaming, 35% of the users play smart phone games while 56% of them use consoles for playing games, according to an ESA report.
So what is the future for mobile phone games and gaming consoles? Are they both going to go hand-in-hand? Or is one of them going to replace the other? Before talking about the future aspects, it is important to see their journey up until now.
Past and the Present
Magnavox Odyssey came out in 1972 as the first ever commercial console for gaming. Soon after its advent, a number of other consoles were introduced in the coming years. These included the NES in 1985, Sony PlayStation 1 in 1995, XBOX 360 in 2005 and Wii U by Nintendo in 2012 – to name only a few of the laundry list.
As far as the history of mobile or handheld gaming is concerned, one can trace it back to 1976 when Auto Race was released which can be declared as a premier electronic mobile game. With the release of Auto Race, the gamers around the globe were introduced to a new kind of gaming. Soon after its release, other companies grabbed the idea and the industry players started introducing their own consoles for handheld gaming. These included consoles from Nintendo, Sega and Atari as the big ones and a lot other small companies.
The mobile gaming industry started growing just two decades ago when Snake was first introduced by Nokia as a pre-installed game in one of their earlier mobile phones in 1997.
At the same time, advancements were made in the Networking technology and WAP was introduced which allowed multiplayer mode on mobile games. WAP was not a very sophisticated tool but it was a big step ahead as it allowed for J2ME and BREW technology to be introduced.
Nokia introduced N-Gage Mobile phones in 2004 that supported basic functionality along with better access to games. This was the era when mobile gaming industry started gaining attention. However, it was not much of a success back then. After that, big leaps were made in handheld gaming devices as Nintendo released DS and Sony introduced the most sophisticated handheld gaming device of that time: the PSP. PSP was one of the premier devices that were capable of internet browsing and high quality graphics.
After that, the mobile gaming industry witnessed the real drastic change when Apple released its first ever smart phone (iPhone) in 2007. The iPhone 2G had the capabilities that made it great for gaming, such as an interface like a desktop computer, easy interaction and on top of all – the iOS.
In 2008, App Store was launched by Apple and it had 500 apps in the beginning. Android OS followed soon after and the Android Market was also launched and later it was renamed to Google Play after the acquisition of Android by Google.
With the release of these games, the mobile game industry was completely revamped. The ideas for mobile games included the features that allowed real-time interaction along with capabilities to share so that all demographic groups could be targeted for playing these games.
As of 2014, ESA reported that the number of adult females who played games, irrespective of console, increased from 2010 to 2014 by more than 7% which means that women are going to be as receptive to mobile games. With the introduction of games like Candy Crush Saga, it is easier to hook up a new target audience for the games.
The Future of Video Games
The most recent portable consoles by Sony and Nintendo were not able to draw as many buyers as expected and both companies blamed the increased usage of smart phones for gaming. However, Sony decided to take the competition head on by releasing a new edition of PSP i.e. PS Vita Slim. Sony anticipates a revolution with the introduction of this new generation console.
Today, the big time console video game companies are finding it hard to stay in the market and are struggling for survival, whereas the developers for mobile games are developing more and more successful games. Mobile games industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. Latest figures of App Store reveal that 430 different games are downloaded every day. Keeping these stats in view, it seems that the recent decision of Konami Corporation to change its main platform from AAA games to Smart Phone games is pretty reasonable.
According to the CEO of Konami, the future of gaming lies in mobiles and smart phones. He further reveals that there are multiplayer games available that could easily link gamers to each other and to the world of gaming. There is no point in categorizing the market because mobile phones are going to be taking the role of linking people.
And to further solidify the success of mobile games, there are new gadgets that are constantly hitting the market such as wearable. It keeps making mobile games even more fun. As an example, you can see the gadgets, that have fitness tracking capabilities and apps such as Temple Run, are most popular due to the tremendous entertainment features.
Are these handhelds and smart phones going to replace the consoles? Are these consoles going to obsolete in near future? Not so much, according to the Newzoo CE Peter Warman, who thinks that PC gaming or Console gaming is not going to be replaced by Mobile Gaming due to customer’s preferences. According to a survey, it has been found that the enthusiastic gamers never dare to leave their consoles.
According to Newzoo Research, it is predicted that console games are going to get a fair market share of about 46% with respect to revenues while mobile games will take up about 30% of the market share in the current year.
A new strategy to keep the PC and Console gaming appealing to the gamers, companies have started to release smart phone apps along with their games to expand the options. An example is FIFA 15 in which players have the choice of making a team using their smart phone app and then integrate that team into their console game to begin playing. Similarly GTA allows players to add features to their cars through their phone apps and then let the gamers use those cars through console or PC games. Assassins Creed has also provided one such app that allows players to unlock special missions in game if they are able to solve the puzzles available in their mobile app.
So what really is the future for gaming? Keeping all the facts in view, it doesn’t seem like gaming really depends on the type of console that is being used to play. Ever since the introduction of electronic games, people have been playing them irrespective of the console’s type. Gaming industry has reached this point through a number of different platforms and now it is quite obvious that games (in any form) will sustain. As for the platforms, it is likely that console companies are going to take the steps to cater the needs of modernity. Gaming is going to keep growing, keep getting advanced and keep bringing more fun. Although it is expected that mobile devices are going to grab more revenue for games than the console devices. To retain the survival, gaming publishers will also try to make their way into smart phones e.g., Konami. Whatever the medium is used, at the end of the day, this will all add to the number of gamers around the globe.
The future of gaming isn’t about the platform used to play games. The future of gaming is all about newer trends, integration, and innovation. The platforms are just going to make it more entertaining. Interactive devices that are able to communicate with each other and other gadgets will only allow the consoles and smart phones games to merge into a unit.
Gaming is going to stay and gamers will anticipate change, only innovative companies will remain successful in retaining their market share. A new game is expected to pop up every day to dominate all others. One recent example is Minecraft. It is platform independent as it is available for all platforms. It does not have extreme graphics and does not require a lot of hardware. Yet the gamers all over the world are playing it and loving it. It clearly posits that the upcoming era will entertain integration and innovation.
Maybe in the days to come, there will be some big and drastic changes to the industry of gaming as we have seen in the past three decades. These changes are not going to occur because people will suddenly feel that they need to play games on only one platform. Such transformations will occur only due to ease of use and great offerings. In other words, gaming industry is expecting a great paradigm shift in terms of innovation.
The success of big time mobile games such as Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Titans does not suggest that these games are a perfect replacement of the hardcore games such as The Assassins Creed Series, The Max Payne Series and GTA series. In their strict definition, mobile games are never going to provide the degree of control and the comfort that consoles are providing for this category of games. There are only a handful of categories that can be successfully played on mobile phones at this time and most of these are RPG and Puzzle games requiring only touch functions. In action games where 3D view is required and fast 360o view is needed, mobile games are not going to provide an interactive experience to the gamers. The avid gamers never prefer mobile games. They always look for a sophisticated and high profile console to satisfy themselves.
The mobile gaming industry will continue to flourish with ground breaking innovations and exclusive offerings. Mobile games are unlikely to quickly become a complete substitute for consoles. We can though expect a high degree of integration between mobile games and consoles. The mobile games developers are of course required to explore new avenues in the industry. In the same way, console companies will have to develop advanced new features to capture any lost market share. As a result, we can predict that people will keep playing mobile games as an easy option while hardcore gamers will, for now, not be deserting their traditional consoles.