The mobile gaming market has become this vast giant recently. With smart phones being the norm nowadays, it's only normal that they are able to play games. It always seemed like a long shot, but mobile gaming is a big thing. According to Flurry Blog, in 2010, mobile gaming revenue nearly doubled to 34% of the portable gaming, from 19% in 2009. This shows that the mobile gaming market is growing at a tremendous pace. But I am not here to talk about the numbers. It's an extreme statement, some people have said that mobile gaming will take over handheld gaming altogether. While I don't agree with that notion, I can certainly say that it is reshaping the gaming industry in many ways.
The mobile game market provides opportunities for small development teams to create games which are inexpensive and have a high potential to reach large audiences. The games tend to be rather simple and short, allowing for many who don't play games to easily grasp the controls and therefore enjoy the game. This can be much harder for handhelds (The World Ends with You for example) and even console counterparts. Plus, the developers don't have to worry about other factors, such as designing a picture for the cartridge or the case. The mobile games also provide different forms of innovative controls, mainly due to the touchscreen interfaces that handhelds are just now releasing, and consoles will find difficult to use. Should a successful mobile developer dive into handheld or console gaming, their experience with touchscreen interfaces could potentially translate into something completely new and innovative for a handheld game or console game.
Touchscreen interfaces can make unique control schemes when applied to games.
The biggest factor for the mobile gaming market growth is the fact that almost everyone has a cell phone. It's something that you carry with you pretty much everywhere you go. There is no carrying extra stuff, which is what bringing along a handheld game system feels like. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access the shop and find something you want. There's a large amount of games and they all offer instant gratification. Since you carry your phone with you all the time, you just wait a little bit for the game to download, and you are ready to play!
You can go to any app store, and find a slew of games from a slew of developers. Some of those games are free, and some of them aren't. The games that are not free aren't terribly expensive either. This is certainly a great thing for the consumer. You can get free games! Who doesn't like free things? Compare that to the $40 average price for some handheld games out there, and it seems you have a winning formula. The fact that the games are rather cheap can help spread good games to many people, and therefore the developers can get recognized. Exposure to the field can be dwindled unfortunately, because there just may be too many games out there to check out, and not everyone has the time to do that. However, with all of the ways the mobile gaming market is changing things, I don't think it presents as big a threat to handheld gaming as people believe.
Are these the future of gaming, or just another form?
One large component that the mobile gaming market won't hurt handheld gaming as much as predicted is the mentality that goes into the games. These games designed for smart phones are mainly seen as â€œtime wastersâ€. People carry their phones everywhere with them, and these little games offer something to do while you are waiting for something. You play your game for a few minutes, and then you are on your way to doing what you planned on doing. A handheld game played on a handheld system has the same mentality as a console counterpart, where you play and are immersed in the game. You sit down for a full â€œsessionâ€ of gaming so to speak. So while the mobile gaming market is very convenient, it certainly can't compete in terms of content offered by handheld games. Its convenience is where it shines, but the quality of the games don't compare to handheld gaming.
The other large component working against the mobile market is the device itself: The smartphone. What is the main purpose of a phone? Communication between people, whether it is through making phone calls, texting, or emailing, the main purpose is to communicate. Gaming is a secondary function of the smartphone, and is therefore not usually on the top of the priority list when it comes to developing and buying such a device. The handheld gaming systems are made for just that: Gaming on the go.
Don't worry guys, we're still here.
Is the handheld market taking a hit? Of course it is. Since almost everyone has a cell phone, it's only natural that they check out other functions of the phone. The amount of people who own a cell phone is much higher than those who own handheld gaming devices as well. Is the mobile gaming threat as large as some make it out to be? I don't think so. As long as developers, publishers, and consumers are out there for the handheld gaming market, it will be there.
For more information, you can check out these 2 articles:
as well as this video: