Tablets and smart phones are quickly overtaking consoles as the most popular gaming platform – and games like Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies, both insanely popular iOS and Android apps, are bringing it on for makers of traditional gaming machines. Just this week, chief marketing guru for Angry Birds Peter Vesterbacka all but wrote the obituary for Nintendo with his prediction that tablet and phone gaming has already dealt the fatal blow. And it’s not a matter of simply porting mobile games to larger platforms – it’s that more people are playing games than ever before, precisely and purposefully on mobile devices, due to several factors:
Price — mobile games range in price from Free to around $10.00 USD. This a far cry from the $30 –$70 range for some games designed for Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Because the games are so affordable and easy to get, their popularity has soared. These games have reached audiences previously untapped by the gaming industry. Anyone with an iTunes account or access to the Android Market can rationalize spending a dollar or two for a great game – and apparently, that’s just what they’re doing. In droves. On a weekly, if not daily, basis. Unless big game makers can cut some costs and pass the savings to their loyal consumers, they should expect more push-back from the new generation of mobile games fans.
Portability – the first wave of portable gaming began in the summer of 1989 with Nintendo’s GameBoy, and was much later followed by Sony’s PSP gaming system. Portable gaming remained a relatively niche market – until the advent of the smart phone. The Apple App store, especially, paved the road for mobile gaming by marrying the impractical with the truly useful. While we can’t attribute the preference for mobile games to portability alone – there does seem to be a correlation between mobile accessibility on a multi-purpose device and the popularity of games.
Attention Span – while there are mobile games available that can be considered “epic” in nature (Infinity Blade comes to mind) most of the insanely popular “everyman” games seem to be written with those suffering from short attention spans in mind. There is something satisfying about the kind of game you can dive into and out of at the drop of a hat without ruining anything. Does this reflect a noncommittal or lazy influence among today’s crop of gamers? Maybe so. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
No matter the reason for the upsurge in popularity of games designed for nontraditional systems, one thing is certain: it’s going to be an exciting and competitive year or two for console system designers as they scramble to innovate and compete with the new wave of gaming.
Author Bio: Melonie is an avid gamer, an Apple fan, and loves blogging about technology. She currently writes for Allied Satellite TV.