Thu
Jul 26 2012 2:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Could Mobile Games Signal the Death Knell for Traditional Gaming?

Mobile games such as Angry Birds, Plants Vs. Zombies, and the Infinity Blade series have been around for some time now and have firmly established their niche in the wide world of video games. Indeed, modern mobile games have a lot going for them: they’re fun, they’re pretty, they can be played for a minute or an hour (likely the former, based on the average American attention span), and they’re relatively affordable. Given this, one might assume that mobile gaming is settling into a peaceful co-existence with traditional gaming.

The sales figures, however, beg to differ. Mobile games are doing more than getting comfortable in the marketplace; in fact, their popularity has soared to such heights that some view them as threats to the very existence of traditional console or PC-based gaming. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney reported last month that “the most profitable game [Epic has] ever made, in terms of man years invested versus revenue, is actually Infinity Blade, a violent, gorgeous hack-and-slash adventure based on the Unreal Engine and developed for iOS. Sweeney went on to state that the Infinity Blade series is even more profitable for Epic than the acclaimed Gears of War series.

With that said, it is important to differentiate between “man years invested versus revenue” and overall profit margin, which are clearly two different concepts and potentially paint different pictures of the state of the industry. We are not trying to suggest that the demise of consoles and PCs is inevitable—far from it. However, it is not difficult to make the leap that at some point, game developers who are especially concerned with their bottom line (and who isn’t?) may eventually grow to view mobile game development as an optimal marketplace and solely dedicate themselves to this niche. It hasn’t happened yet, but this type of move is not out of the realm of plausibility. 

And so, dear readers, we give way to your thoughts. Can mobile games exist within the traditional system of gaming, or are we witnessing the end of an era?

In other gaming news this week, Kratos tries to be more like you, mainstream gaming could be hitting Linux systems soon, Planescape: Torment contemplates Kickstarter, and IGN discusses the FF VII dream. Read on!


If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

4 comments
Classic Appa
1. Classic Appa
As the technology that mobile games are played on progresses, I suspect that, rather than PC and console gaming being phased out, mobile gaming will become more and more similar to those PC and console games. If the mobile device could handle it, and in a few years it possibly could, a game more like Gears of War could be produced for a mobile device too.
Pritpaul Bains
2. Kickpuncher
@1 Valid point. I hope it doesn't reverse in the other direction, though, where PC/console games instead actually become more like mobile games and undergo a simplification process. I could see that happening just as easily.
Walker White
3. Walker
This is less of a feature of the devices themselves - a recent iPad is as powerful as an X-Box 360 - and more about usage styles. Decreasing the minimal unit of play - how long it takes to launch, play, save, and quit - a reasonable length of play will increase your player base. As gamers get older, even the formerly "hard core" ones, making time for that minimal unit of play gets harder.

An iPhone game needs this time to be around a minute to be successful. iPad games, on the other hand, can handle a 10 minute factor. Both of which are shorter than console games which tend to be around 30min for minimal unit. So larger audiences.

But this also comes with price expectations. A top of the line iPad game will go around $10, while an iPhone game will be between $1 and $2. So you have to reach 10x the audience on the iPhone to make as much.
Classic Appa
4. Saon
The time is not so far when we see mobile games are more effective then c games. The developers are doing more for mobile games and there are more billions quality mobile games in store.

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