Will mobile gaming disrupt the console market?
Ben Thompson and James Allworth host an episode of the exponent podcast where they discuss/agree to disagree if the console market will be overtaken by mobile. It is an interesting topic, but I feel this is one place where “everything going mobile” does not quite make sense.
I for one really enjoy gaming on consoles – currently on PS4 – instead of mobile. Sure there are dozens of casual games I have spent some serious time playing on an iPhone or iPad, but a console hooked up to a large TV with online multiplayer and chat is the preferred setup. We are comparing two completely different gaming/entertainment experiences. On the go, with a few minutes to kill and predominately as a single player is mobile gaming. Multi-hour sessions in front of a large screen, dedicated controller, real-time competition and voice/video/Twitch chats with friends are the hallmarks of consoles.
One scenario mentioned was making a mobile device the hub (console replacement) that connects to a large screen, controller and other accessories. This is a nonstarter solution right now and probably for the near future. The Achilles’ heel of battery life will keep consumers from using a single mobile device for all computing uses. We are most likely years away from solving the power constraints of current batteries. So we will continue to have a phone, a laptop, consoles and other dedicated devices.
Also, this idea of connecting wireless controllers and mobile to provide the dedicated input favored by console players is also unrealistic. The nature of smartphones today is to have a single device that out of the box can handle a multitude of tasks all while fitting in your pocket. Pretty sure consumers are not looking to carry around a bag full of accessories to expand the capabilities of their mobile device. They prefer pulling out their device, using it and then pocketing it. Grabbing and connecting accessories makes that process cumbersome and unappealing.
Now that is not to say that Ben and James are completely off base. I agree that Nintendo will back out of the hardware market and focus on software on multiple platforms. Although that is easy for me to say since I do not play Nintendo games. Even after purchasing two Wii’s and giving Nintendo multiple chances I never got hooked. I would like to here from avid Nintendo players on how they would feel about them going to other platforms and/or focusing on software.
The hosts were also on point that mobile will take over the casual gaming market from consoles. That is where the “good enough” argument comes in. Again, for me the iPad is my go to for casual games. Who knows, the larger iPhone 6 screen will convince me to play more games. Mobile devices are reaching a level of capability that rivals that of low-end gaming devices – 3DS, Wii, Ouya and PS Vita. A purchasing decision of spending money on another device that is made to perform select tasks that your smartphone can also do and more seems silly.
However, like most things your usage is different from mine. How do you game? What do you game on? Do you notice usage trends changing?