Are Smartphones Killing Consoles?

Are Smartphones Killing Consoles?

The global phenomenon that is Pokémon GO has shown us that mobile gaming can be more than just a “snackable” time-filler that we whip out while we’re waiting for the bus.

Pokemon with pokemon go stats on his bellyThe advent of augmented reality and it’s even more sophisticated cousin, virtual reality, means that mobile games can be vastly immersive experiences. They can now be played for hours and hours rather than minutes at a time.

As anyone who has seen groups of teenagers charging around chasing augmented monsters can attest, augmented reality games can be real-world social experiences too, not just solitary ones. It isn’t just spotty adolescents who are playing Pokémon Go either.

A report published by Newzoo predicts that this year, for the first time ever, revenues from mobile games are expected to outstrip those of console and PC games.

Mobile gaming will generate a total of $36.9 billion in revenues or 37 percent of the total market in 2016, while PC games will bring in $31.9 billion and console gaming revenues will be $29 billion.

Multi-Platform Madness

Is mobile strangling the console market? Well, clearly a little, although a $29 billion industry cannot really be said to be struggling. Meanwhile, the success of traditional console games companies in the mobile arena, such as Nintendo’s with Pokémon GO, suggests that the future of gaming is essentially multi-platform.

fact box showing how many hours gamers play forConsole and mobile will always offer very different experiences, and there’s no reason to believe one will necessarily cannibalize the other.

“With multiplatform games, there’s really no point in dividing the market into categories anymore.” Konami CEO Hideki Hayakawa told Nikkei last year. “Mobiles will take on the new role of linking the general public to the gaming world.”

From Snake to Pokémon GO: The Rise of Mobile Gaming

Mobile’s rise over the last few years can partly be attributed to the vast improvement in smartphone graphics and visual representation of the percentage of americans who own a smartphone and consolethe processors that support them but it’s also been about delivering the “right” kind of games for the platform.

This wasn’t always the case. Early smartphone games were often stripped down adaptions of console games. Developers would even stick A and B buttons and a joypad on the screen, a method of controlling the game that was clunky and awkward.

Soon, though, they realized the key to success was not adaption but to build games designed specifically for the mobile platform from the ground up, with controls that work for mobile.

Angry Birds was perhaps the first mobile video game that really could be called a cultural phenomenon and that is largely because the dynamics of the game are perfect for the mobile device.
Amount of birds thrown by gamers in the Angry Birds mobile game

The Social Network

The unstoppable rise of social gaming and its migration to mobile from desktop via Facebook, has fueled the huge growth of mobile gaming over the past few years.

Social gaming is also a great monetizer. In 2015 the social online games market was worth $1.97 billion in the US alone. That figure is predicted to reach $2.4 billion by 2020.

The majority of this revenue comes through mobile app-based social gaming and the platform is projected to keep on growing. Experts expect it to account for nearly 84 percent of the entire US online social games market in 2020.
Graph showing money spent gaming on mobile and console devices

Social gaming, which is often simple and puzzle-based, has been perfect for the limitations of mobile. After all playing on your mobile is still a very different experience to console gaming. But that may be about to change.

Thanks to modern GPU’s in mobile devices, mobile games are getting better. Will they ever be able to replicate the experience offered by consoles though?

The Future Of Mobile: WebGL

Essentially, WebGL is a JavaScript API that allows games designers to draw and create 3D graphics that are compatible with a wide range of web browsers. The API allows JavaScript to communicate with the users’ GPU like a native application, without the need for additional plug-ins.
This means mobile devices will be increasingly able to provide in-browser games with console-style graphics that look more active and brighter.
Web JL

Future Graphics: A WebGL 3D rendered head. Click here to rotate the head.

The next generation of mobile games will offer more visually immersive environments, increasing engagement and even more interaction. This is something that is bound to be more appealing to the millennial generation who have been reared on console gaming and become quickly bored by the limitations of 2D mobile gaming.
For the online gambling industry specifically, there will be the opportunity to bring 3D online poker to mobile. 3D casino experiences that permit instant interactions with in-game objects are a possibility too.

Virtual Reality

Which brings us to virtual reality. It’s important to realize there are essentially different shades of virtual reality,

There’s high-end VR, produced through expensive high-spec gaming PC’s, low-end mobile VR, and a kind of middle-ground VR, courtesy of the PlayStation VR console.

As the new medium develops, it’s likely that one of these platforms will win out in the long-run. It’s Betamax and VHS all over again!

The path to mass VR adoption remains unclear, although it’s likely that the relative expense of high-end VR will initially be an inhibitor to its uptake.

In the short-to-medium-term, most of us will experience VR through our mobile devices. This will probably to boost mobile gaming further ahead of PC and console. For a while, at least.

In the long run, mobile is not the best-use case for the new medium of VR. The truly awe-inspiring immersive VR experience is only achieved through a high-end platform and that means high-end VR is likely to become dominant in the next 5-10 years.

how many gamers will buy a VR headset