Video games have come a very long way since the days of Pong. Whereas you used to need a strong computer to play even the simplest of 2D games, the phone in your pocket is now powerful enough to fully render HD video games better than anything older than the last two generations of home video game consoles. What does this mean for the gaming industry? Well, it’s safe to say that almost everyone has a phone- in fact, statistics show that 92% of Americans have not just a cellphone, but a smartphone. In contrast, as of 2016, only 48% of Americans have a home video game console, and that number is continuing to drop.
When your phone can play games with the same amount of depth as some current console games, and you already own a phone, why spend the 400 or more dollars to get a console, too? Plus, you can take your phone anywhere and therefore play games anywhere, whereas with a console you’re stuck in front of the TV. It makes sense that mobile games are slowly overtaking console games, especially when the average gamer isn’t a hardcore fan of Halo or Call of Duty- they’re just looking for a fun, engaging experience that can take their mind off of things for awhile, and smartphones are easily able to provide that.
The Impact of Mobile Games
Mobile games have made the leap into pop culture, with titles like Fruit Ninja getting an arcade release and Angry Birds getting a movie. Just about everyone has downloaded Words With Friends at some point (in 2010, its heyday, WWF already had 6.5 million downloads), which is especially relevant because the game was created by two brothers who were laid off when their employer, Ensemble Studios (which developed console games), was shut down by Microsoft. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was heavily involved with promoting Mobile Strike, a game which was pulling in fifteen million dollars a month in revenue.
And it’s all because we are always on our phones. We are always just seconds away from playing an addicting game or downloading a new one. At the bus stop, in traffic, in the bathroom at work. There’s no social stigma like the one associated with a Nintendo 3DS, and there’s no waiting to get home to play the Xbox. People of every age, every race and every economic background play mobile games, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. There is a mobile game for everyone, and as phone technology gets better, the games will become longer, deeper and more complex. There will come a time when our phones will surpass the level that the PS4 and Xbox One are at now, and what happens then? Will consoles die forever?
The Future of Gaming
Honestly, probably not. But their sales will be severly impacted- more than they already have been. Mobile is disrupting the games industry in a big way, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Competition breeds creativity, and so console developers, PC developers and mobile developers alike will all strive to make better games at lower costs in order to keep our interest. If you are a hardcore gamer that can’t get enough Overwatch or Destiny, your console will be there for you. But while you’re standing in line at the midnight release of the next big AAA title, you’ll have those trusty mobile games in your hand to keep you company.