Console vs Mobile: A Changing Industry

By | December 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm | No comments | Multimedia in Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The game industry is changing. It is a $70 billion industry, expected to grow to $86 billion by 2016, according to market researcher NewZoo. With the introduction of the App Store, the audience expanded to younger and older gamers and to a wider range of socioeconomic markets. Today, gaming is everywhere. Business marketers have latched onto this trend, introducing interactive promotional experiences to market their products. Games have evolved as well, with massive immersive worlds with complex plotlines on one extreme, to quick addictive games meant to be played on the go. With the massive influx of mobile games, people are asking if gaming consoles like Playstation and xBox still have a role to play. We think yes, but they must continue to innovate in order to remain valid.

The mobile game industry is growing at a rate of 19% per year. As opposed to the console side, mobile game companies are often composed of very small independent teams, many working out of their home. Therefore production costs are relatively low. And with an influx of over a million new gamers in the next year, the revenue potential for mobile games is huge. It is no wonder that large console game producers have turned their attention as well to mobile games. The mobile game industry is fresh. It employs a much larger pool of developers, all competing for the next hot game. Innovation is happening and developers are finding new ways for us to interact and experience the gameplay. Games take advantage of touch screen technology to offer up experiences unique to that control method. They also utilize easy location and networking capabilities to create new possibilities of interactivity with the world around us.

In contrast, the console market is shrinking, though it still occupies around 35% of the total market share. The average console gamer is in their 30’s and aging, with less growth in the young and older generations. The console game market is mostly composed of very large companies, requiring hundreds of artists and developers, and costing millions to produce each game. Despite these statistics, console games continue to set record sales. Grand Theft Auto 5 set a record for the most revenue earned in 24 hours of launch and the first game to top $1 billion in sales in just 3 days. The Playstation 4 and xBox One both sold out on launch day and continued to show strong interest into the holiday season. So it would seem there is still demand for this type of gaming. Lets examine why.

So far, mobile games are limited in their scale and complexity due to current mobile hardware and software limitations, as well as screen size and the ability to control a range of complicated tasks. The advantage of being able to take your game anywhere requires that you sacrifice processing power and screen size. We found this article interesting as it explored the current limitations of mobile platforms: Read it here.

Interactive Movies
Console games are pushing the boundaries of storytelling in games. Some have even employed Hollywood writers and directors to drive the storylines. Players take an active role in the characters’ actions and virtually control how the story unfolds. In this way, gamers become immersed in a sort of interactive movie. This in fact fits with the current craze over reality television where viewers vote to decide what happens in the show. This level of interactivity, from a storytelling angle, only really exists in platform games. Therefore these games serve a need and lead the way for a lot of possibilities for where this medium can go.

While touch screens create a wonderful tactile experience, they lack the complex options available with a traditional game controller. Many games simply can’t exist as a mobile version due to the sacrifice in control options. What’s exciting is a lot of innovation is happening in this space. Voice, motion tracking, gesture, and accelerometer type controls are all improving and offering up new possibilities of how we interact with the games we play. So far the console games have the advantage but it will be interesting to see how mobile devices can employ these new technologies to improve the mobile control capabilities.

Size Matters
Console developers have pushed their marketing in the direction of “entertainment platforms”. Consoles now must serve as the entertainment hub of a home. The goal is to make home entertainment more interactive. In this way, they blur the distinction between TV, movies, and games. Consoles have an advantage here because of screen size. Playing a complex game or watching a movie is more exciting when experienced on a large TV screen versus a 4-5inch mobile screen. The processing capabilities on a console box will likely stay ahead of the possible processing power available on an ultra thin smart phone, at least for the time being. Hardcore gamers demand the best, uncompromised experience possible.

What we are arriving at is that both mobile and console platforms serve a unique purpose in entertaining us. Mobile platforms offer ease, portability, and tactile control that make certain games ideal for this medium. While console systems offer the display, control, and complexity options ideal for more cinematic games. We also draw a distinction between a casual gamer, who is looking for instant or temporary gratification, versus a hardcore gamer who is looking for a long-term immersive experience. Console games are likely to become more of a niche market, but as long as they continue to evolve the entertainment experience, they will continue to satisfy a need in the market.

Another interesting article on the subject of mobile versus console games: Read it here.

The R.E.D. Team



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