I’ve been doing a lot of mobile gaming lately; a lot more than I ever have before. And to be clear, when I say “mobile gaming”, I mean iOS/Android gaming, not traditional handheld gaming. As I’ve spent more time playing mobile games I’ve started having more fun than I expected too, and as such, started wondering what the future of mobile games looks like.
For the longest time I had a serious dislike for mobile gaming. When the iPhone was new, I enjoyed the occasional game, but found the nature of the market place to be largely populated with absolute garbage. While that’s still the case, there is a considerably larger group of quality games than ever before. Some of the games aren’t just “good”, either. Several are worth serious consideration for critical awards. I still have a lingering question about what the mobile market really is to the gaming world, and where it fits into the future of gaming.
If we’re going to discuss the future of mobile gaming, then we have to start by admitting the obvious…mobile gaming is a serious platform now. Kids today play games on their mobile devices the way I played games on my NES. When they’re 30 they’ll as much nostalgia for Angry Birds as we did for Super Mario Bros. That may not sit well with you, but your parents probably hated that you liked your video games more than your Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets; that’s just how life works. Kids today will have their gaming purchased influenced by the mobile market for their entire lives. Mobile devices aren’t going away, and the kids that use them as gaming machines will only do so more as time goes on.
Now that we’ve established that today’s mobile gamer kids will become tomorrow’s mobile gamer adults, it’s time to figure out what exactly the mobile market means for the gaming industry as a whole. I see the mobile market’s role in gaming much like TV’s role in visual entertainment. Most of us would prefer to see Star Wars and Batman on a big fancy movie-theater screen. We’re fine watching reruns of Friends on our TV, though. In the same way, the Halo‘s, Uncharted‘s and Call of Duty‘s of the world will continue to have their place on consoles and PCs, but games games like TellTale‘s offerings, turn-based RPGs, and even remakes, will have an increasingly large stake in the mobile market.
If you’re a grown up and you’re reading this, then you probably grew up with a controller, not a phone, in your hand. If that’s true, then there is probably a part of you that wishes for this mobile-centric future to go away. Unfortunately for you, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m not saying that you have to simply give up on “traditional” gaming, but I think it’s important to understand that more and more quality gaming content is being produced with mobile devices in mind.
Mobile gaming will almost certainly always be relegated to smaller scale games; at least until we’re all wearing 4th generation VR devices Minority Report style. The thing is, once you cut through the admittedly enormous amount of terrible mobile games, there are some true gems out there. It takes more to find them than it does on other platforms, at least for now, but there are still plenty of reasons to be positive about what mobile gaming has to offer.