Nathan Franklin / Thu 26th Nov 2015
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Showing a rapid incline in recent years, mobile gaming is now becoming a preferred alternative to modern gamers.
With smart phones becoming more relevant in our everyday lives, it's only natural that a new market would spring. Ericsson claims mobile phone subscriptions will equate to over 6.1 billion by 2020, meaning a wider audience for mobile gaming.
It comes to no surprise that an impartial amount of developers are now shifting their focus towards the portable goldmine.
One of the obvious factors for its success is its accessibility. Whether you're on the go or just chill'n at home with a tablet, mobile devices are easier to access than other platforms. Constant updates are another winning factor.
The promise of more content and features is often the developers' source of repeat income. Game of War for example, a multiplayer real-time strategy for mobile devices encourages players to perform micro-transactions to buy 'gold' - an in-game currency. It's hard to earn organically and for good reason, because it's through these in-app purchases (IAP) that developer King Digital Entertainment (Candy Crush) receives its income (an estimated $1,000 per day in the USA alone and is a top-grossing game in many countries).
Commonly known as the "pay to win" strategy, so many developers now use the free-to-play (f2p) model to earn big bucks through IAP's. Although console games are renowned for providing DLC after launch, updates can be too complex to breed expansions like mobile games do.
Mobile game developers can update their content much more regularly due to the relatively simplistic nature of their products (not that C++ is easy or anything).
Realising the potential of the mobile platform and possibly spurred on by the disappointing sales and reception of the Wii-U, the late ex-company president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, announced plans to partner with Japanese-based developer DeNA to produce mobile games based on existing Nintendo IPs.
Satoru stated in a 2015 interview that his company realised how they will make use of smart devices, hence grew a passionate interest in the new-found vision.
This idea comes in the form of Pok?mon Go! An augmented reality concept developed alongside ex-Google start-up company, Niantic. Pok?mon Go! Is one of the most powerfully interactive augmented reality games that uses real virtual-mapping technology to create a universe in the palm of the player's hand and in the real world.
If this is what Iwata had envisioned for Nintendo's use of smart devices, it certainly holds hope for the future - and perhaps creates danger for the console market if smartphone technology continues to be optimised by AAA developers with such originality.
Excitingly, Pok?mon Go! Is just the beginning of Nintendo's commitment to smartphones, with the puzzle game, Pok?mon Shuffle due to be released before the end of the year.
Konami are due to jump aboard the bandwagon as well. In May 2015, CEO Hideki Hayakawa stated that "mobile is where the future of gaming lies" and recently the company cancelled production on console game development barring their Pro Evolution Soccer series.
This certainly suggests that the company could be steering towards mobile game development. Could mobile gaming become Konami's new area of expertise? Only time will tell.
Should these companies prove successful in their mobile gaming ventures, many others will follow. Such successes would prove that big-time game companies can make it big in the smartphone arena, too. That, combined with the much-advertised profits of mobile gaming, would make this a venture too tempting not to follow.
Given the simplicity and fun of the genre and the larger pool of potential players, mobile gaming looks to be taking on the console market and could even surpass it as a whole. In the long run, it will be interesting to see if the industry continues to be affected, and even if one day soon Candy Crush Saga could be accepting Best of Show at E3.