Smartphones are basically gaming consoles in the hands of people these days. If you’re seated in the back seat of an Uber, on the BART, or a plane headed to the next tech conference, wherever you go… somebody’s playing a game on a mobile device.
And although mobile is undeniably the most commercially profitable platform now, in terms of its craft it remains the lowest deemed, as the pressure of microtransactions robs creative liberty for developers. This disparity adds meaning to the controversy over the future of gaming.
So, back to the question- is the future of gaming truly mobile?
In the past decade or so (actually, the past three decades), gaming has been booming, and it’s been doing so across a wide variety of channels. It seems equally evident that gaming begets gaming: console players are more likely to take up smartphone games, and vice versa. Mobile device sales can well surpass console revenue, and major publishers may continue to find ways to make their products work on phones. Yet all this is just going to be additive: more teens than ever play games, and the pie is rising.
The future of gaming is no more mobile than the future of gaming being console or PC; gaming is the future of gaming.
Devices that are becoming extremely effective at connecting and developer tools that operate across various channels can only help unify what currently sounds like “diverse audiences” and then, the games will follow. The enterprises that benefit from the transition will be the ones that use their game design expertise and insights to discover new experiences that players want, regardless of the medium. Take a look at Minecraft for instance, which is not a computer game nor a mobile game. It also isn’t a PC game. It’s all three of them!
There may be a sweeping revolution in the gaming industry, but it will not be because people suddenly realized that they now prefer new games: it may be because online streaming is efficient enough to render local hardware obsolete, or because mobile devices are capable of running AAA games. It can be that someone with a living room PC finds the sweet spot and erases the boundary between PC gaming and console gaming. VR is going to be the all-out thing. None of these can ruin AAA games, or mobile games, or anything. The industry is going to move and it is going to expand, regardless of the device.
Another thing about this disparity is the better efficiency of PCs and consoles relative to smartphones. The kind of visual and sound consistency that can be reached on modern game consoles is just not (yet) possible on smartphones.
In general, console gaming audiences seem to be more loyal and enthusiastic about their favourite games. In the gaming industry, the conflict between profit and craft frames an intriguing flashpoint whose resolution is fiercely debated and still uncertain. So, to steer clear of this hot debate, we can simply state that the future of gaming is gaming.