Becoming MobileEdit This Entity
Since the times of the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), games have been rooted to homes since the beginning of video game history. Video game consoles have become a fixture of entertainment in houses around the world. In recent years, mobile gaming has slowly become a way to pass time while on the go. Around the world, over 60% of people own some sort of cellular device. Due to the fact that cellphones have been on the rise, so has mobile gaming.
In 1972, the first home video game console was created by Ralph H. Baer which was the Magnavox Odyssey. Even though it did not pick up much success, the video game market started to change and evolve quickly. In 1977, the Atari 2600 was released in North America and many consider this to be the start of the “golden age” of home video game consoles. It sold thirty million units as of 1991 which revolutionized the video game market as we know it today. Soon after many others, like Sega, stepped into the market and the video game market grew at an astronomical pace.
In 1983, cellphones started to become commercially available to regular citizens around the world. From the giant, archaic pieces of plastic depicted in cartoons and movies to the current, sleek smartphones of today, the world has seen drastic changes in this device. Once they were used for basic phone calls around the world, and now they are used for productivity, entertainment, and varying types of communication. There is no doubt that the cellphone, as we know it, will become one of the largest necessities after your basic Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
You may possibly be asking what home video game platforms have in relation to mobile gaming. Today, 40% of people own home platforms (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) in the United States compared to 42% of people owning smartphones in the United States. We have to ask ourselves, as gamers, if the market is going to change for the better or for the worse. In my predictions, the market will go one of two ways. Either mobile gaming and cellphones will dominate the market and completely leave the home platform in the dust, or downloadable games will dominate the market and eliminate the need for specialty gaming stores such as GameStop.
The first possibility is especially frightening for the reason of all the good times we have shared with our consoles. As a fan of both retro and modern gaming, it’s hard to imagine the consoles being obliterated by one separate market. In 2010, Rovio's hit game "Angry Birds" reached fifty million downloads (ten million of those on the Android market) in just under one year. With companies finding that it is a profitable market, it makes it even more accessible to people who want to get in on the action. This is obviously a credible reason as to why the consoles are still alive, but these “cheap” games have been compared to greats like the Legend of Zelda franchise which has sold around 59 million units as of 2010. It is an undeniable fact that the mobile gaming market has become one of the fastest growing markets in the world and a large trend in the masses of the world.
The second possibility is one that has already started to take effect on the home platform. Downloadable games are to video game consoles as Facebook is to social life. Steam has already capitalized on this by launching a PC-game service in which users can instantly purchase a game and download. Imagine the possibility of not having to go down to the video game store and purchase a game when instead you could just purchase the downloadable version in an hour or so. It’s a growing trend which has angered purists of the disc form everywhere. One of the largest threats on the disc-based market is the Phantom. Announced in 2002, it was created to link the realms of PC and console gaming by having a subscription-based download service. The thought was to download games from all consoles and have them on one system that you could play and enjoy on your television. When E3 2004 came around, skeptics of the system and others denied the fact that the system would ever hit the market. In 2008, the idea was abolished and the only thing that was scrapped was the Phantom’s lapboard controller. With ideas like the Phantom, it may become a fact that this concept will one day become reality; that one system will control all and game developers will craft for one system. Along with the fact that bandwidth has grown to new levels, these concepts will come to life sooner than we expect. Downloadable games are quickly become reality and it’s a decision as to jump on the bandwagon or walk the separate path.
As a final cause for the switch to mobile gaming, it could possibly be due to the fact that our culture is extremely fast-paced. There is basically no time between work, school, social, and personal needs to fulfill our gaming crave. However, mobile gaming offers that simple solution. Mobile gaming offers games that are easy to pick up and play at a moment's notice. Games like Angry Birds (created by Rovio) and other assorted games take a couple minutes to play. Comparing this to a home platform standpoint, it can take up to 40-60 hours to play a game like Fallout 3. The quality is obviously a huge factor with the both of these games, but it is the sacrifice of time that has brought mobile gaming to a new level. With traveling and other commitments, it is a factor to think about in our day-to-day gaming lives. Will our culture drive us to a world where we don’t have time for entertainment? Will we make time for home platforms? Will home platforms become that huge, forgotten hole in history? Only time will be able to tell the fact that our beloved home platforms will be staying for many years ahead.
As a world, mobile gaming is becoming the new reality. Developers around the world are taking advantage of this change by creating new and popular games for the mobile gaming market. With accessibility and price to take into mind, mobile gaming is a growing trend that is here to stay. Although our consoles may be struggling, there is no doubt in my mind that home platforms will still be a fixture in our homes for at least another five years. There is no other experience like gaming for some and it is here to stay. The only question is: How far will it evolve?