How mobile has changed the gaming world

With such rapid advancement and commercial success over recent years, the smartphone device has become a regular addition in our day-to-day lives. The impact of this boom in the market has had a significant effect on other industries, most notably with video games.

Global sales of smartphones are expected to hit one billion this year, giving rise to a vast market in mobile gaming. As a result, traditional gaming platforms have started to feel the pressure of customers and developers redirecting their attentions away from consoles.

One market in particular which is feeling the strain is that of gaming-optimised hand held devices. A recent report released by App Annie and IDC shows that in the second quarter of 2013, combined sales of game content from Apple’s App Store and Google Play were four times more than the revenue generated from portable game consoles. Furthermore, spending on Google Play alone outsold the consoles in Q2, with the majority of the revenue coming from Asia-Pacific markets.

“Android is extremely fragmented but also on its way to becoming a critical mobile/portable gaming platform,” IDC Research Manager, Lewis Ward stated on the Q1 report. “The reality is that gaming-optimised handhelds from Nintendo and Sony will have to work hard to differentiate and remain ahead of smartphones and tablets on key metrics.”

This has created very real concerns over how the mobile platform will affect traditional console gaming as a whole. Analysts DFC Intelligence estimates the global video game industry to be worth $82 billion by 2017. Despite Microsoft’s Xbox One and PlayStaion 4 set to hit the consumer market next month, the majority of this global revenue will still be generated from online and mobile markets.

David Cole of DFC Intelligence said: “New console systems from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony are expected to help the console segment regain some momentum in the 2014 to 2015 timeframe. However, the steadiest growth is on the PC and mobile side.”

PC gaming sites have also started to develop mobile specific products. Despite this though, PC gaming has seen steady growth despite negative predictions, raking in $20 billion in revenue last year.

Cole added: “DFC was surprised the industry still showed growth in 2012 with the decline of large subscription MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online), heavy attention being paid to the impact of mobile games, and the struggle of many social network games. However, 2012 saw significantly increased distribution of successful titles that positively impacted the market, including Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Minecraft and the Mists [of Pandaria] expansion to World of Warcraft.”

Despite its impact on other gaming platforms, mobile has its advantages for consumers and developers alike. Users are able to benefit from an affordable and widely accessible library of titles, whereas developers are able to produce successful content without large upfront costs. This has made the industry more accessible to small and medium developers and has opened up new opportunities for large, established brands.