In the past, when people spoke of mobile gaming, most people had a preconceived notion that mobile game was somewhat of a gimmick. Snake on old Nokia phones was a lot of fun and killed some time but, let’s face it, it had nothing on the console and PC games of that era. However, as smartphones came into play and evolved the mobile gaming market, more and more titles came out and started to innovate by using the touch screen but, again, it was largely gimmicky despite very fun.
For instance, Fruit Ninja is perhaps one of the most successful mobile games of all time and it uses a simple swipe mechanic to cut fruit. It’s a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, it can’t compete with more serious games on a console. Another good example is Pokemon Go, a title that made a ridiculous amount of money and gained so much popularity that it spawned several clones (much like every other popular mobile game) and although it has a unique gameplay mechanic, it doesn’t match the fun and depth of a Pokemon game on the Nintendo 3DS.
Changing our perception
Let’s remove those ideas that mobile gaming will ever be as “serious” as PC gaming or console gaming. Smartphone developers aren’t (and should never) try to compete with other methods of gaming because the majority of gamers are already playing on their computers or they own Xbox and Playstation consoles. Instead, what mobile developers should be targeting is the casual market. Games that can be played on the go and use simple controls are best because they are simple to get into and don’t require much investment. Most people use their mobile phones on the go, so it doesn’t make sense to try and develop a cinematic role-playing experience on a small phone.
Games that mobile does better
Freemium is a payment model that has existed on PC gaming for a long time but has only recently gained popularity on consoles. For example, the excellent Let it Die is a free PS4 title that is funded via microtransactions much like mobile games. This gives mobile games an upper hand when it comes to revenue generation because mobile platforms are exposed to users at a much higher rate than console or PC platforms. You can search the store and find thousands of freemium games that let you try before you invest money.
Mobile games also have the advantage of utilizing a touchscreen, making some genres a little more interesting and fun. For example, card games like Poker or Blizzard’s Hearthstone collectible card game are much more convenient to play on a touchscreen rather than using a mouse.
Mobile is taking a different route
Mobile phone games seem to be taking a different route. It has spawned many different genres that are starting to catch on in console and PC development circles, such as the freemium payment model. In terms of revenue, the mobile market has a massive advantage because there are so many people around the world that use smartphones compared to the number of people that own a gaming computer or console. In terms of generating profits, mobile gaming has already surpassed console and PC gaming markets. In terms of gameplay and technology, will mobile games ever catch up? Apparently, they don’t need to.