Is console gaming dead?

Will Mobile Gaming Commit Console Gaming to the Tech Graveyard?

I have read a few posts lately on the rise of mobile gaming and how it will eventually kill the console video games market and I have to say, I could not disagree more. I have always enjoyed video games across a number of platforms but most often on Sony’s PlayStation series, collecting all four generations of console over the last 15 years or so and although I still use the PS4 weekly at the ripe old age of 26, the time I spend gaming is far less than when I was in my teens.

Mobile gaming has been a huge growth sector since the rise of the smart phone, which is great, but I think some people believe that this growth spurt must ultimately mean it will inevitably push similar sectors out of the market. One EA developer seems to think that this is the case as demonstrated with their ‘here lies console gaming’ gag on the Simpsons Tapped Out mobile game (image borrowed from Kotaku). This is not the case, my argument for why mobile gaming will continue to grow but will never replace the console as the leading gaming technology can be summarised in two main points.

Firstly, mobile gaming has opened up gaming to an audience that did not previously have access to games. This is because mobile phones did not support game development or they would not have been a user of a handheld gaming console such as a Nintendo Gameboy, possibly because of the stigma attached to it (games are for kids) or the cost was unjustifiable to them. The accessibility has nullified this stigma, how many business men and women can you see playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga on a daily commute in London? Would they be the target customers for Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo consoles? No they probably would not be as they don’t have the time to play games at home. The ease of which mobile gaming can be accessed has opened the market to this audience, an audience that was never buying and playing games on consoles, and therefore this audience’s spend on this mobile gaming is not to the detriment of the console games sector.

Secondly, technology shrinks. Thanks to the increasing computing power associated with games systems on mobile it is now possible to play games that are of similar quality in terms of depth and graphics that you would see on an early console. However the depth and quality of games on consoles are significantly further ahead. Mobile wins every time for convenience but there is no comparison when it comes to the capability. If predictions are to come true that console gaming will die due to the rise of mobile then firstly mobile gaming has 15 years of technological advancement to catch up on and fit into mobile devices to equal the standard that console gaming has reached. All of that is before we have even spoke about the delivery of gaming, playing on a 50 inch TV with an ergonomic controller, voice chat and high speed online competition is hard to replicate through mobile.

As technology continues to evolve, the capability of both smartphones and games consoles will continue to increase and there is no reason to believe that rate of increase will not be fairly matched, mobile will not make up 15 years of development overnight and console gaming of the future is likely to begin incorporating the exciting new technological advancements in gaming that are virtual and augmented reality, 3D and cloud gaming.

What I am surprised about is the lack of cross platform integration in video games, particularly how console game developers have (so far at least) missed a trick by integrating gaming between mobile and console that allow gamers the benefit of using their console for the full game and micro games that contribute to the larger game via mobile that can be used whilst away from the console. PlayStation have tried to do this somewhat with the PS Vita system but it is not a mobile device, it is a handheld gaming unit like the Nintendo Gameboy, a market that some would argue is unlikely to compete for much longer if mobile technology continue to improve. There have been some efforts, EA’s Battlefield Battlelog app allows you to view and share stats and achievements but there is no real contribution to the game. This is an area that can be further developed.

I think what settles the argument is the numbers for both consoles and games. Game development budgets are now comparable to films, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V reportedly cost £170 million to develop and sold 11.2 million copies within 24 hours of release. The global revenue for the first 3 days of the game being on sale is thought to be around $1 billion.

If consoles are dying, someone better inform the general public to stop spending so much money on them.

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