Typically, I'm the type of person that see's some sort of a chance to move things forward and my imagination thinks of all the possibilities of what could be -- detriments be darned.
The Apple marketplace is that type of a thing -- I once wrote that Apple could literally buy their way into gaming quite easily by snatching up several gaming publishers and having many billions to spare. Or Apple could buy a company like Nintendo and become a major hardware manufacturer.
What I didn't really envision right off -- and I probably should have -- is that the iDevices are now one of the most popular gaming platforms on the planet. Apple didn't need to do anything -- they're on their way to becoming the center of gaming for most Americans and perhaps even for the entire world.
Handheld consoles such as the PS Vita and Nintendo's many latest iterations are hopelessly going to be left in the dust. As of this summer, the Vita had sold 2.2 million units. As of this last quarter, Apple sold 16 million iPads in the last three months alone.
As a software developer, which are you going to want to develop for? Sure, the software prices on games on Apple's devices are much smaller -- but the potential profit margin plus lower development cost is just astoundingly easier to get products to market.
If I were starting a gaming company, I wouldn't even consider consoles -- I'd develop solely for Apple and Android devices.
Apple has famously claimed that the death of the PC is here, as it's tablets sell more inventory than any PC manufacturer sells PCs. The real question that needs to be asked is: are gaming consoles next?
The next generation of consoles figure to feature huge spikes in hardware capability, but that also means there will be a spike in development costs. This means gaming start-ups will have an infinitely harder time developing for consoles -- and many are choosing not to do that. Furthermore, this will consolidate where games are developed for major gaming consoles to big box publishers only, whether Sony and Microsoft (and to a certain extent Nintendo) like it or not.
Where the newer and fresher ideas are going to go is to mobile. You can develop games with less people (sometimes one), and reach an audience of millions. Many start ups have banked huge on this strategy. There's no doubt this trend will continue.
The Death of the Gaming Console?
Gaming consoles, just like PCs, won't go away entirely. But their relevance is surely going to wane at least somewhat. Consoles have already began making the necessary shifts to becoming more like entertainment hubs rather than gaming consoles -- it's likely only a matter of time before being able to take your game with you becomes a much bigger priority than the number of pixels one can pack on screen.
What we are likely heading to is an era where consoles see the more mainstream efforts come out with gems every now and then, whereas the best imagination and often the best products are found in the mobile realm -- where the freedom from corporate chains on creativity and the imagination are free to roam, not unlike how the movie and music industry currently works.
Mobile Games Are Simply More Accessible
For the most part, mobile gaming is allowing a new breed of gamer to really be impacted -- not unlike what Zynga famously did with it's games on the Facebook platform.A four year old and a sixty year old traditionally would never play big complicated games like The Elder Scrolls or Madden -- but they certainly are playing Angry Birds and Flip Kick Football.
And it's not just extremes around the traditional 18-34 gaming populous. The average age of a mobile gamer is 39.5 years old, that same generation that grew up with simpler games on simpler consoles. There's no doubt some nostalgia there. The marketplace is exploding, with the number of individuals who have played a mobile game in the past month raising 45% over last year.
Nearly half of mobile gamers get their fix daily.
Even more interesting, a third of mobile gamers will spend more than $10 on their mobile games and twenty percent plan to spend more than $50.
And this is just the beginning.
Mobile Games Are Best When Built Around Simple Concepts
Mobile games are obviously not geared to an audience which is looking for an experience like the console version of MLB: The Show. But a game built around a home run derby concept? Instant winner.
Flip Kick Football was one of the first mobile games I reviewed, and it was built around the simple concept of making field goals to get a higher score. A sports game? Yes. Realistic? No. Simple? Also...yes.
But there is room for mobile gaming to appeal to a more hardcore audience. Take iOOTP baseball -- while simpler and less expansive than it's big brother, most on staff here at OS who have played the game have said it is one of the most addictive games you'll find.
Perhaps it's the relative simplicity within the text simulation -- I'm not sure -- but iOOTP is a game that's perfect for mobile gamers who want a deeper experience. I still get some play time in on the game from time to time.
What do it all mean Basil?
This trend means that if you aren't a mobile gamer, you might want to consider jumping on the bandwagon and trying it out. It also means that somewhere in the future, but probably not this decade -- gaming consoles aren't going to be as relevant as they once were, perhaps even driven to extinction.
It's a fascinating trend to watch.
It also means new ideas and new concepts are going to be everywhere in gaming, so long as you play on mobile. Many of the coolest ideas for gaming apps over the past four years are on mobile platforms. While this will mean a lot of gamers who are interested in realism only will find themselves on an island at times with few good options (see: Baseball games currently, if you are a 360 only owner), it also means many of us are going to be participating in a new golden era of gaming.