This editorial is in direct response to a conversation I had recently with Jeep over at The Surge. I may not be an expert on gaming in general, but I have a pretty firm grasp on what people have come to want and expect from mobile devices. When people are mobile (not at home) they really don’t want to bring the “console experience” with them. People want to play games while mobile, but the experience they are looking for differs greatly from what they want at home.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Hell yea I want the console experience on the go”, but think about it. You really don’t. When you’re out and about, you want to play something that is easy to pick up, play and put back down. Sure there might be games that are more in depth than say, Angry Birds, but you still want them to be easy to jump in and out of. A perfect example is Infinite Blade from Epic Games. These guys made a game that has high quality graphics, in depth mechanics, and a good story element but with gameplay designed towards being easy to play on the go. So how did people react to it? They made over $10 Million in the game’s first six months on sale.
Don’t even get me started on the popularity of games like Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, N.O.V.A., and Cut the Rope. People speak with their dollars, and their dollars are going towards games like these.
Now let me make something clear, just because a game is geared toward mobile, does not make it lower quality than console games. People want and will pay for quality regardless of what platform it’s on. The key difference is the experience on said platform.
Before the rise of mobile gaming on iOS and Android, consumers purchased handhelds like a Gameboy or PSP in order to game on the go. Are gamers looking for a console experience on these handhelds? No. Look what games sell well on handhelds. The top sellers of these handheld platforms (Q1 2011) will show you these games are nothing like what you play on a console. Pokemon Black/White: 10.08 million, Mario Kart 20+ million, and Monster Hunter Portable 4.34 million. What do all of these games have in common? They are designed specifically for handhelds. They aren’t trying to replicate a console experience, but instead, give gamers something different. Because that’s what they want.
Some say, COUGH Jeep COUGH, that the Playstation Vita will usher in a new era of console gaming on a handheld. While I agree graphics will be better, mobile ports will be “cleaner”, and controls will be more intricate, gamers still won’t be playing console style games on it. While there might be similar games on the Vita that you also see on your home consoles, the successful games will be those tailored for mobile.
In fact my theory is that mobile gaming on smartphones and devices like the iPod touch will eventually replace the need for a Gameboy or PSP like device. The games are cheaper, tailored specifically for mobile, and can be updated easily. We have already seen a decline in handheld software revenue (game moneys) since the rise of iOS and Android gaming. Even Gamestop will now carry iOS devices on their shelves.
My point is no matter how capable hardware and software gets, people want a mobile gaming experience when mobile and a console experience at home. Until I can bring my couch, coffee machine, and hang out in my boxers on the go, I’ll continue to enjoy my games the way they were meant to be.