Mobile gaming continues to flourish but it seems this may not be the only threat to ‘traditional’ gaming consoles in the future.
Speaking to technology website AllThingsD Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, predicted that mobile gaming’s dominance won’t last for long. This is because other technologies like Google Glass and Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for 3D games, will eventually take over.
Bushnell noted that the gaming industry reinvents itself every five years and while the last half a decade has been focussed on mobile and casual gaming on the go, he believes that the novelty has worn off and the mobile gaming niche “has run its course”.
This could be down to many reasons but Bushnell highlighted that the mobile gaming market had simply become overwhelmed with products that are too similar.
Game makers including Zynga and Rovio paved the way for other mobile gaming developers following the success of Draw Something and the Angry Birds series of apps. The popularity of those titles prove that this particular space is highly lucrative, but as more app developers try and cash in on this growing market it’s quickly becoming oversaturated with products that are one and the same.
However, it seems unlikely that the popularity of smartphone games will dwindle any time soon, but this could all depend on when gadgets like Google Glass become available to the masses and open up new entertainment avenues.
According to a survey carried out by research firm IDC and analytics firm App Annie during the fourth quarter of 2012, consumers spent more money on mobile games than on software for dedicated gaming consoles.
Of course, mobile games are cheaper and more accessible, and with thousands of different titles to choose from and instantly download, this statistic may seem a little misleading. However, the report also noted that gaming apps accounted for roughly one third of all downloads at the end of 2012. And, a staggering 80% of all app spending in Google Play alone currently comes from game purchases.
Dialaphone conducted its own survey and found that more than 50% of respondents used their smartphones for gaming. Although it’s not a surprising statistic there is no doubt that this figure has been boosted by sites such as Facebook, which recently reported that 250 million users play mobile games via its site every month.
For now, figures suggest that smartphone gaming is on the up and even chip makers including NVIDIA, Intel and Qualcomm are all fiercely battling it out to create processors optimised for gaming, something that will only encourage mobile gaming to soar.
Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s head of project management said during this year’s Mobile World Congress that when it comes to chipsets “the best is yet to come” adding that “right now games are good, but I think we still haven’t taken advantage of everything we have”. Qualcomm has even confirmed that it’s looking to create lower-end versions of its processor for cheaper devices in order to bring more users into the mobile gaming niche.
Regardless of these developments, the growth of ‘traditional’ console gaming shows no sign of slowing down as the market continues to turn over a decent profit.
To say smartphone gaming has run its course is a bold claim and one that many would no doubt argue against. Mobile gaming is hugely popular right now and as developers look to cash in on this, the wealth of titles and innovation only looks set to expand. It’s whether these are of a high enough quality to tempt gamers away from traditional consoles that is the big question though.