With the 9th generation of consoles on the horizon, most of the media coverage of the gaming world is focussed on the Sony PS5 and the Microsoft Xbox X Series and how they will change how we approach gaming.
For the past few decades, consoles and PCs have dominated the industry. However, with the increasing power of smartphones and the huge level of smartphone penetration, mobile gaming has risen from a curiosity to become one of the most dominant forces in how we game today.
In fact, recent surveys of smartphone users have shown that smartphone gaming accounts for around 46% of all the time spent gaming. Additionally, the mobile game market has become so lucrative that other companies are gamifying their product to appeal to the mobile gaming demographic.
In this article, we’ll be looking at why mobile gaming has become more popular and what it is about mobile gaming that has transformed it into a viable alternative to console and PC gaming in recent years.
A Wider Range of OptionsOne of the key draws of mobile gaming is the sheer range of choice on offer. While the major consoles are dominated by annual releases of the same major gaming franchises like Call of Duty and FIFA, the mobile gaming space is much less rigid.
Gamers can easily find and switch between first-person shooters, complex puzzle games, engrossing strategy games, classic tabletop games, and even mobile versions of classic casino table games like those offered by Betfair Casino.
Portable and ConvenientUnlike the static emplacement of traditional game consoles, a smartphone has the benefit of being lightweight, making it a perfect on-the-move gaming companion. Because it also encompasses other functions, a smartphone also represents greater utility than a standard games console.
The best evidence for portability and convenience playing a part in the sales of game consoles comes from the console industry itself. The first of the 9th generation of consoles, the Nintendo Switch, bucked the general direction of console releases by being a handheld.
The fact that the Switch was portable, coupled with a library of solid games on release, resulted in outselling both the Xbox One and PS4 from 2018 onward.
Greater Smartphone PenetrationSmartphone penetration in the US is expected to reach around 275.66 million by 2020. By comparison, the most recent figures for games console sales show combined annual sales of just 16.7 million units across the most popular consoles in the US, including the Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo DS.
For those who have no particular interest in purchasing a dedicated games console, or who do not have the means to do so, a smartphone represents a viable alternative, allowing them to play video games without the need for a console or PC.
Increasingly Powerful SmartphonesThe current appetite for retro gaming, as best exemplified by its popularity on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms, and the critical and commercial success of games like Papers Please and Return of the Obra Din are significant examples of that fact that a good game does not need cutting-edge graphics.
However, the current generation of smartphones has become powerful enough that they can run games like Shin Megami Tensei and The Elder Scrolls: Blades featuring graphics that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a console just one generation ago.
The constantly increasing power of smartphones has allowed mobile-game developers to stretch their wings when it comes to graphical intensity and create games that, while they aren’t in the same league as next-gen console releases, aren’t embarrassingly inferior.
Overall CostThe average cost of a console title on release is around $60. By comparison, most video game titles cost around $5-15. This means it is genuinely possible to purchase five mobile games for the cost of one console game.
Also, many people pay for their smartphone as part of their mobile contract, spreading out the cost of their phone as opposed to the increasingly large upfront payment needed to acquire the latest generation of consoles. This reduced cost in both the games and the platform needed to play them on has played a pivotal in the rise of mobile gaming and looks set to continue to do so.
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