Optimism is where it’s at in the mobile gaming sphere, which is set to overtake the console industry in the worldwide market. Exciting? Yes, but not a true slam dunk since consoles still reign supreme in the US. The two obvious questions are why mobile is hot on the console gaming world’s heels and whether the global trend will become a national one. Let’s tackle them one by one.
First it’s important to note that this is probably one of the most disruptive periods in video game history, second only to the early 80s when home entertainment systems drew players out of arcades. Changes in technology like the ubiquity of smartphone ownership and high quality graphics processors like Snapdragon’s quad core processor have broadened the potential audience for both new and old games. A three-punch combo of accessibility, portability and quality have attracted players who would not have traditionally called themselves gamers.
As a result game companies are casting a wider net, pulling in people by blurring the line between social media user and gamer. The gateway drug might be Candy Crush Saga on Facebook thanks to a friend’s social share. From there, a player can stick to Facebook games but chances are they’re eventually going to branch out into the app world and maybe even start playing some serious titles. The fact that one can go from Candy Crush to Chaos Rings is only possible because mobile’s low bar for development and ease of distribution means there has been a surge in inexpensive, fun and surprisingly rich games.
But the biggest factor driving mobile’s ascendancy today may just be word of mouth. Viral marketing works no matter than what the product is, but if you can synch the medium and the message through rigorous social integration your chances of hitting it big go up.
So will mobile ever dominate in the US? Chances are good, especially as the mobile gaming and social spheres continue to merge and casual players join the ranks of the gamer. Social games are attractive to casual players because they create a sense of community with gamers supporting each other by participating in each other’s virtual journeys. There are more than a few mobile games where quests literally cannot be completed without help from other players. Compare that to the serious console gaming culture, which can be incredibly adversarial.
What will likely continue to drive mobile’s ascendancy in 2015 and beyond will be not only word of mouth but the community created by that intersection of games and social media. The ability to share both victories and defeats with a likeminded audience is a powerful motivator, attracting segments of the population who have never picked up a controller. And while console and PC gaming will likely always have a place at the table, an expanding audience means the serious gamer will now have to share space at that table with the social gamer.
This year it’s the social gamer who will ultimately not only inspire developers to produce mobile-friendly versions of existing games, but also a new crop of ground-breaking games that harness the power of social media and community engagement. How exactly this integration between game play and the group will unfold isn’t yet clear, but expect new innovations to be revealed monthly as developers work to put a truly social experience into players’ hands.
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