To say this is a David and Goliath style match-up would be an understatement!
Mobile gaming is kind of a big deal now. The hundreds of millions of dollars raked in by the App Store and Google Play every year is enough to make anyone in the game industry sit up and take notice. Whether you’re a gamer or game maker, we simply can’t sit huddled in the dark with our controllers in-hand (gently whispering “my precious”) anymore. The mobile games market simply cannot be ignored, as it now demands equal billing with its console brethren.
But that’s how it always starts. The student inevitably becomes the teacher. So has the Padawan of mobile games learned enough to overthrow its master?
On that point, I have to answer with a resounding no. In fact, if we continue with the Jedi analogy, I’d call mobile the Wookies of the gaming galaxy. Don’t get me wrong, they are formidable opponents, but just not strong enough in the Force to rise up and conquer. No matter how insanely popular any one particular app might become (take Angry Birds or even the latest Flappy Bird for example), there is one fatal flaw built at the core of mobile gaming that will always hold it back. Its Achilles heel is the technology. If you don’t believe me, just ask EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen. He recently expressed similar reservations about mobile gaming ever seriously competing on the same level as its big brother. He suggests that shooters like Battlefield will always truly be at home on a console. “You just can't get that kind of experience on mobile. Mobile is a much more quick, short burst of gameplay.” He said.
So what does the future of mobile gaming truly look like?
It’s an interesting dichotomy juxtaposing the game industry of 20 years ago vs. today. Who knew the simpler times of Game Boy and Game Gear, would evolve into the billion dollar industry of the iPad and Galaxy Tab. But it’s now the world we live in. Frankly, I still feel that many companies who fail to preform in the console market successfully, will find safe haven in handhelds (and possibly a renewed future). Of course, I won’t name any names (but one such example begins with an N and ends with an ‘intendo). However, I don’t think you can make a direct comparison of mobile gaming to consoles. To me, that’s a bit of apples to oranges. I think they offer two unique and distinct experiences. While mobile has no hopes of ever wiping out competition on the consoles, I’m not sure that was ever a real intent in the first place.
A synergy between the two mediums is ultimately what’s best for gaming today and moving forward. Jorgensen makes a good point that smartphones and mobile devices are responsible for "…bringing new people into the gaming business,” and that it will only help to “…expand the console experience." Granted, the one thing technology has shown us over the years is its ability to get smaller as it gets more advanced. I suppose it’s really only a matter of time before we carry around PS4 grade hardware in our pockets.
Could a time really exist when you’d consider a complete abandonment of consoles tethered to entertainment centers in lieu of a more portable gaming lifestyle? I see a comments box below…let’s find out.