Is Nintendo’s and Sony’s mobile push the end for the console?
Two of this year’s coveted Super Bowl commercial slots were filled with advertisements for games. These games were however not meant to be played on the PlayStation or Xbox console, as many would expect. The commercials for Game of War and Clash of Clans, featuring supermodels and movie stars, were for games designed to be played on smartphones and tablets. This truly goes to show how significant the mobile gaming industry has gotten in recent years and how far-reaching its audience is now.
In 2016 the revenue of mobile games outgrew console and PC games for the first time ever. Tablet and smartphone games now take up 37 percent of the entire market, which equals $36.9 billion. The general growth projection indicates an overall market share increase in the upcoming years. Smartphones keep improving constantly. This goes hand in hand with even more sophisticated titles being developed specifically for this platform. The free-to-play format, in particular, has been one of the fastest and most lucrative developments in the past few years.
Even though opinions often diverge and many hardcore gamers tend to belittle the mobile gaming phenomenon, it does offer certain benefits over console games. It wins over devoted gamers as well as new users by being convenient and fast, therefore fitting busy modern lifestyles. Other reasons include lower costs compared to console games and a remarkable ease of use. That makes mobile games more accessible for anybody from toddlers to housewives.
Big publishers moving into mobile gaming
Since the recent success of Pokemon Go, many big publishing names are dipping their toes into the mobile gaming sphere. Nintendo announced that it is now planning to release two to three mobile titles every year. They are currently observing the performance of their first mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes in order to make the right monetizing and strategic decisions for the future. Its rival Sony is planning on releasing up to six of its iconic PlayStation games in Japan during 2017/18 for mobile platforms, starting with the hit title Everybody’s Golf. Take Two Interactive, known for Grand Theft Auto and BioShock, is also moving into the mobile gaming business by acquiring Social Point, often described as the Zynga of Europe, for $250 million with additional earn-outs of up to $25.9 million.
For console game publishers, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the lucrative mobile market. Even though the competition is high, it is crucial for these large companies to stay ahead of the game. It is not easy to reach users; however, they can take advantage of already existing intellectual property, for instance, Nintendo with Mario or Donkey Kong.
What happens to the console?
It is often talked about how the console gaming trend is decreasing and how the current console generation is very likely to be the last. However, the latest numbers are showing that console and PC games are not about to die out. In 2016 the revenue generated from PC games was expected to rise 2.1 percent while console gaming revenue was expected to rise 4.5 percent. The sales of the Xbox One and the PS4 are still rising, and console makers are making attempts to adapt to the growing mobile trend by offering downloadable add-ons and exclusive content. Mobile games are not necessarily comparable to console and PC games due to their different scope and level of quality. They are not meant to replace console games, but rather expand the overall gaming network and include other people interested in gaming. Think of it that way: mobile and tablet games are complementary to console games, they are not the console enemy.
Originally published at iconicfuture.com on March 6, 2017.