There was a time when video games were much simpler.
Once upon a time, gamers didn’t have to think about the platform where they’d play – because their options were limited.
Sure, there were always a variety of competing consoles on the market. But aside from PCs, which could be thought of as a distant cousin to consoles in terms of their gaming hardware, consoles were the only place games were played.
But the mobile age has changed that – as it changed everything. Just as people communicate, browse the web, and manage their lives from the comfort of their smartphone, so do they game. And while mobile was once considered the clear second-place choice for gaming, it has slowly gained favor.
A recent study showed the number of people playing mobile games in 2018 throughout the U.S. and Canada increased by 5 percent. Matt Piscatella, a gaming industry analyst at the NDP Group said mobile represents the largest segment within the marketplace.
He also noted that about sixty percent of Americans and Canadians play mobile games, largely due to the large library of content. From Candy Crush Saga to Pokemon Go, there’s plenty of variety on what is at first glance a very simple platform to work with.
Another driving factor of mobile gaming’s success is, of course, the convenience it offers. It’s a way to play games on the go, at work, in the bathroom, or wherever else the mood strikes. Smartphone gamers play daily, which is a little more than tablet gamers, while Android remains the most popular gaming option.
While mobile has been slowly taking over the gaming world, it isn’t without opposition. It’s not that console and PC gamers are opposed to mobile gaming for themselves or for others. The problem they have is popular studios turning to mobile as a primary platform even if they’ve historically made games for consoles and PC.
Take Blizzard, one of the most successful gaming studios of all time, especially in the RPG genre. Their recent announcement of Diablo: Immortal, a mobile-only game, got a lukewarm reception. Some believe this was simply because fans attending the event expected Diablo 4 for PC, the next logical choice given Blizzard’s history.
They fended off questions about whether the entire release was one big poorly timed April Fool’s joke, and arguably had the worst response one could think of given the situation. The Blizzard rep on stage seemed baffled by the negativity, asking the crowd “you guys have phones, don’t you?”
For developers, the buzz around mobile is simple – it’s profitable. Many mobile games utilize the pay-to-win philosophy, giving players the option to buy items and perks with real-world currency, sometimes in excess. This provides bigger returns, keeping studios’ shareholders happy, albeit perhaps at the expense of some gamers.
With mobile gaining popularity, there are no signs this trend will slow down. All gamers can do now is wait and hope their anticipated titles make it to the platform they want – whether that’s in their entertainment center or their pocket.