Mobile games have tremendously come to full rise in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Just as everyone started to own a smart phone or tablet, mobile gaming has turned from a non-existent market to a $17.5 billion industry as of 2013.
From being difficult to access and complicated to navigate, mobile games have dramatically improved in terms of mechanics and graphics. It also gave birth to many genres as target audiences have doubled. Anyone with a mobile phone, regardless if its iOS or Android, has installed and played a mobile game at one point of their life. As the time progresses, it’s clear that mobile games are here to stay.
What could be the reasons why mobile gaming has been this successful? The factors below are contributors to the rise and popularity of mobile games.
Mobile devices such as PDAs and Blackberries were the first models designed that could actually handle mobile games. On the downside, they were marketed as business tools rather than for entertainment which is why there was limited potential for game developers. This perception was totally changed when iPhone was introduced by Apple in 2007. The iPhone was a massive success, as its entertainment systems were highlighted on top of its phone capability.
iPhone has changed the perception of phones. With its features, it has made mobile phones not just for businessmen or professionals but for everyone. With the rapid success of iPhone and development of competitors, the future for mobile games has become brighter. In a quick span of time, traditional gamers were outnumbered by new potent players. According to a 2013 US market statistics, only about 70 million own PS3s while 200 million have iOS and Android devices. Learn how iPhone mania has ruled the world by reading here.
Because of its portability and accessibility, a lot of players preferred to play their games while they are on the road instead of being tied into their living room TV set.
Second, producers have saved huge amount of money with the new distribution mechanisms of smart phones. Developers realized its full potential when App Store was opened by Apple in 2008. Game distribution has now transitioned into simple and inexpensive way.
Not only mobile games are easier to publish, it’s also easier to obtain wider audiences. It costs more money to copy and transport physically distributed games while there is a tough restriction from established publishers for the digitally-distributed console or PC games. The distribution potential as well as low cost made the production and distribution of mobile games so much easier.
Do you remember the game Snakes?
This popular game in the ’90s was the first mobile game cited by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the governing body of video game industry. For those who weren’t born yet when almost everyone was crazy over Snakes, this game only existed on Texas Instruments graphing calculators. Player would need to use the arrow keys to navigate a small snake around the screen. You would also need to avoid walls, obstacles and running back into the snake itself if you don’t want the game to be over. The snake has to eat numbers that randomly appeared across the screen and grew as it eats.
Though the popularity of snake was unquestionable, graphing calculators were very expensive which is why portable game had limited potential. Games stayed limited to specific portable systems such as PlayStation Portable or Nintendo Gameboy.
It was only until 200s that game development purposes have been leveraged for both entertainment and technology.
Costs and Funding
Another factor that contributed to the rapid success of mobile games is the cost of production. Aside from the fact that mobile games have easier contribution compared to traditional games, they also cost less to develop.
Mobile games don’t need detailed cinematic graphics. Developers draw in their audience by creating great characteristics and innovative mechanics. These appealing traits are easier to code than detailed graphics hence small teams are only required to develop the game. It means lower overhead and cost of the company.
Aside from that, less overall codes are required in mobile games which speed up the production time. There’s a bright future for small developers as investment only costs a few hundred dollars compared to about $50 million in traditional games.
Another contributor to the rapid growth of mobile industry is the development of funding patterns. Crowdfunding sources such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter have helped insure that development of mobile games is continuous. The interested parties can donate small amounts of money to support a certain project. If you have a creative and innovative idea but don’t have enough budgets, you can simply turn to crowdsourcing for help.
Traditional Games Stagnation
Mobile industry remained strong and stable thanks to available funding and low developmental costs. While traditional games are having difficulty adapting on these factors, it proves to be an advantage for mobile games.
Mobile games have made a huge competitive leap against console interface. Console makers are stuck with improving decades-old mechanics and graphics while there’s a consistent upgrade of mobile devices every year. The innovation of new products and improvement of new phone features make the life of mobile games developer easier.
In addition, traditional games cost more than mobile games – from its production to its distribution. This limits the developers when it comes to taking a risk. Many large studios rely on a few popular blockbuster titles as their primary source of income. Almost all of these blockbusters are established franchises or sequels. If you’re someone who is looking for new game experiences, traditional games may meet this need. Whereas in mobile games, upgrades and innovations are not uncommon.
Mobile gaming is here to stay. It appeals to many potential gamers because it is innovative, low cost and accessible. As long as there is a demand from consumers, developers will continue to create new and exciting features. In conclusion, we can say that the future of mobile gaming has never looked this brighter.