Over the past decade, mobile gaming has experienced a dramatic rise in popularity. From Candy Crush to Minecraft, mobile games are enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and this exponential growth has led some to ask whether consoles will eventually become obsolete.
Could it be that consoles will soon be replaced by mobile phones and tablets as the preferred platform for gaming? In this article, we had a closer look at the factors that are driving the rise of mobile gaming, and discuss what it might mean for the future of consoles.
What is mobile gaming?
The first thing to establish is what mobile gaming actually is. As the name suggests, mobile gaming refers to the playing of video games on mobile phones, tablets, and other portable devices.
This type of gaming differs from traditional console gaming in that it is much more casual and requires less investment in terms of both time and money.
Many of these games are free-to-play (or “Freemium”), and include a variety of genres such as puzzles, action games, strategy games, and much more.
What is driving the rise of mobile gaming?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the success of mobile gaming, and these include:
- A rise in the number of smartphones
The first – and perhaps most obvious – factor in the rise of mobile games is the increase in the numbers of people who own a smartphone.
Smartphones now account for nearly half of all mobile phone sales worldwide, and this has made it much easier for gamers to access mobile games on the go.
- Lower cost of development
The second factor is the lower cost of developing and producing mobile games. In comparison to console games, which require expensive hardware, software, and marketing, developing a mobile game is relatively inexpensive. This has enabled smaller studios and independent developers to produce high-quality games at a fraction of the cost of console titles.
The third factor is the accessibility of mobile games. Mobile devices are incredibly portable and can easily be taken anywhere, making them ideal for playing games while on the go. In contrast, consoles require an initial investment in hardware, and are usually limited to a single location.
- Availability of high-quality games
The quality of mobile games has also improved dramatically in recent years, with developers creating more sophisticated and complex titles that appeal to a variety of players. This has resulted in a much wider selection of titles available on the App Store and Google Play, which has helped fuel the rise in popularity of mobile gaming.
Will mobile gaming replace console gaming?
So, will mobile gaming eventually take the place of gaming using traditional consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation?
It is impossible to say for sure whether mobile gaming will eventually replace console gaming altogether, but it is clear that this form of entertainment is here to stay – particularly given the rise and prevalence of smartphones. Mobile gaming is a much more convenient and accessible way to play games, and it’s likely that this trend will continue as technology advances.
However, it’s important to remember that consoles still have their place in the gaming world, and many gamers still prefer them for a wide range of reasons.
Some of the main advantages that consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation can offer over mobile games include:
- Higher quality graphics
The main advantages that console gaming offers over mobile gaming is the ability to achieve higher-quality graphics, and this is simply due to the nature and design of these machines.
The hardware within consoles is much more powerful than that found in a typical smartphone. This, in turn, enables developers to create much more visually impressive titles, as well as games that are more complex and immersive.
- Greater control over content
Console gaming also offers greater control over content when compared to mobile gaming. This is because the software on these systems is controlled by the console manufacturers, meaning that developers can be sure their games will be properly tested and regulated before being released.
By contrast, mobile gaming can often feel a bit more “wild west” in terms of quality control, as it is much more difficult to police what games are made available on the App Store and Google Play.
Similarly, many gamers simply feel more comfortable with console games; they are a tried and tested way of playing games. Furthermore, many gamers feel more at home with the traditional controller than using a touchscreen, as well as with the knowledge that the games they are playing have been tested and developed in a more traditional manner.
- More immersive experiences
Console games also tend to offer a far more immersive experience than their mobile counterparts, with better, more involved characters and stories.
This is largely due to console games having usually been designed to be played in one sitting, meaning they can tell a story over the course of several hours. Mobile games are usually shorter and designed to be played in short bursts, which can make them feel less substantial.
- Longer lifespans
Console games often have much longer lifespans than mobile titles, with many of the biggest releases offering hundreds of hours of content and replayability.
This makes them a great investment for gamers who are looking for a more substantial gaming experience, and means that fans are more likely to upgrade to the newest model to allow them to access a wider range of top games.
- Fewer upgrades
On a similar note, most consoles will upgrade with less frequency than smartphones, and this means that gamers can keep their console for a longer period without having to worry about losing access to the latest titles.
This is particularly beneficial for those who don’t have a large budget, as consoles offer far more “bang for one’s buck” than smartphones. The player only needs to upgrade their console when the day arrives that it doesn’t support any of the games they wish to play.
- Multiplayer functionality
Consoles also offer more robust multiplayer experiences, with most major titles offering both local and online multiplayer options.
Mobile gaming does offer some multiplayer options, but these tend to be more basic in comparison. This means that, if the player is looking for an immersive gaming experience with friends, a console is usually the way to go.
How can mobile game developers make their games more tempting?
So, the question remains: how can mobile game developers make their games more tempting than those available on consoles?
SuperScale, who facilitate mobile game user acquisition strategies, took a closer look at this question, and came up with some top strategies for mobile game developers to consider.
- Know your target audience
Knowing your audience is crucial to success for mobile game developers. Who are your players, and what do they want from their gaming experience? Are you creating a game to compete with console titles, or are you aiming at a more casual audience who will be happy playing for short bursts?
Understanding your target market is key to making sure your game stands out in the right ways.
- Focus on quality over quantity
Another key factor is to focus on quality over quantity. Mobile gamers are often put off by games that have too many features or levels, as they can quickly become overwhelming and tedious.
Instead, mobile developers should focus on creating a compelling core experience that offers enough content to keep players coming back for more.
- Choose the right marketing strategy
One of the most important things to remember is that the way you market a game on mobile will be different from how you would market it on console.
Mobile gamers tend to be more casual, and are looking for games that offer quick thrills or brief distractions; as such, it’s important to ensure your game’s marketing materials reflect this.
- Know the KPIs for your game
It is also important that developers have a good understanding of the relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) for every mobile game they develop.
These metrics will be crucial in helping you to determine whether your game is successful. Furthermore, they will allow you to make changes if needed, according to the wishes and preferences of your audience.
The rise of mobile gaming is undeniable, but it doesn’t mean that consoles are doomed to become obsolete and resigned to the shadows of the past.
In fact, many gamers still prefer the more immersive and substantial gaming experiences that consoles can often offer, and favour the in-depth characters, more complicated stories, and capacity for more advanced higher-quality graphics that help create a more immersive experience.
Despite this, it should be noted that mobile games are also on the up, and developers are working hard to improve KPIs, focus on target audiences, and improve quality to ensure they have a quality game to offer.
Mobile gaming is on the up – and this is a market that has the potential to net the right developer a lot of profit.