We’ve all heard it before: the mobile gaming market will bring the death of console gaming. Experts have, time and again, commented on how the strength and growth of mobile gaming meant only that other markets were shrinking, and while console gaming is still around, experts say only $4 in every $10 is set to come from disc-based games played on consoles and PCs.
Much of the strength of the mobile market comes, unsurprisingly, from the portability and convenience of playing games on this platform. “Mobile is popular because so many of us have these devices in our possession throughout most of the day,” Michael Inouye, Senior Analyst from ABI Research tells Mail Online. “But it’s important to see the delineation between mobile and what many call core gaming.”
In the same sense, many have said that there’s a difference between the kind of people who play games mostly on their mobiles, and those who play on consoles regularly. The former are known as “casual gamers” – people who only passively enjoy video games, and are more drawn to games that don’t require too much of a commitment. By contrast, the latter, known more as “core gamers”, are more likely to enjoy games that they would have to spend hours and hours completing. The latter are more inclined to immersive games, and can be expected to spend a chunk of their time sitting in front of a console or PC, while the former are more likely to whip out their phone for a quick game of Crossy Road while waiting for the bus.
Recently, however, we’ve seen a huge development in the kind of games released for the mobile platform. Improvements in technology and processing power have meant that the mobile can now handle more complicated games, and even some core gamers have found something for themselves in the mobile market. More than the fact that Square Enix has already offered some of their classic console RPGs for mobile gamers, some mobile games have been built specifically to “bring console quality video game experience to mobile devices”. The mobile market now offers a huge selection of games, with over 1.2 million apps in both the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Meanwhile, consoles continue to struggle not just to attract new gamers, but to keep their old gamers, some of whom have come to realize that they can now get the same experience from more convenient (and cheaper) mobile games. Brian Blau, research director of consumer technology and markets at Gartner says of the same to Mail Online: “Console games today are still very expensive when you compare purchase price with mobile games, and gamers are starting to realise they can get value from less expensive content.”
Can the console still recover? In order to bring more gamers in, it seems they need to start focusing on the casual gaming market too, but is the platform already too, well, typecasted? After all, it’s not like consoles haven’t tried to appeal to casual gamers before. We look at the Wii and Wii U, consoles built specifically for the casual gamer, which ultimately failed when mobile gaming exploded. It’s not for a lack of trying either, as Nintendo even went so far as to create “an authentic re-creation of real casino BlackJack” with V.I.P. Casino: Blackjack. Described by Intercasino as “easy to master and requires less skill than other popular casino games, and has a huge winning potential”, games don’t get much more casual than BlackJack, yet gamers still prefer to boot up BlackJack apps on their phones instead. Various minigames and games like Katamari have been made for the gamer just looking to spend a fun hour or two in front of their couch to pass the time, but they’re just not as successful as their mobile counterparts.
After all, when you think about it, it does become rather tedious to set up your console and switch discs and all that, if you’re really just looking to pass the time. By contrast, mobile apps can be booted up with just a tap of a finger, and that alone is enough for most casual gamers. What they want is quick, easy, convenient fun and entertainment, and they can’t be bothered to turn on their TVs, turn on their consoles, switch to Fuzion Frenzy 2 and select a game, just to play some “minigames”. In the same amount of time, they could have already finished fifteen levels on Unblock Me.