Gaming has evolved. For nearly a decade, the mobile-game market was believed to attract casual players looking to level up on Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga, or break records on Temple Run or Fruit Ninja. If one was looking to indulge in core gaming, a console was a safe bet. Not anymore. Today, console games are increasingly making their way to mobile phones. On the other hand, core titles such as Clash Of Clans are gaining popularity too.
“It is true that more and more console games are available on mobile devices these days. The reason for this is the mass adoption of smartphones and an exponential increase in the number of mobile gamers in the past four-five years. Game developers, too, prefer mobile devices to consoles as there are fewer barriers [in the mobile-gaming market] and it takes comparatively lesser time to develop these titles,” says Ankush Gera, CEO, Junglee Games.
Experts are, however, not surprised by the trend. Mobile gaming has been on the rise for nearly a decade. With smartphone graphics and processors improving, gamers, who, perhaps, earlier played on consoles such as Nintendo or web-based games on PCs, are opting to spend that time on their phones instead. Naturally then, titles are being adapted for this audience. So, while franchises such as Hitman, Rayman Jungle Run, Lara Croft and Minecraft successfully made the transition from console to mobile, cult indie title Skullgirls and Titanfall, among others, are also going the smartphone way.
That would explain why, for the first time, mobile gaming revenues are set to outstrip the money generated by console and PC games in 2016, according to research firm Newzoo. Games from tablets and smartphones will generate a total of $36.9 billion in revenue. In comparison, PC games will bring in $31.9 billion while console gaming will generate $29 billion in revenue. This is probably also why gaming companies such as Nintendo and publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard, among others, are warming up to the mobile-gaming market.
But experts are quick to add that not all titles can make the transition. Some console games are created to deliver a highly-dynamic experience and cannot be adapted for mobile. The size of these games is also a concern because it becomes hard to run a heavy game on mobile devices. “Since mobile games have expanded the reach of the gaming audience to include all demographics, it is an attractive market that is growing quickly worldwide. But some console games still produce experiences that mobile games can’t truly replicate. They also cater to diverse needs of players who want to be engaged on a game for multiple hours,” says Roopak Nair, chief marketing officer and business leader of Live Games at Reliance Entertainment – Digital.
To make it easier for developers to utilise the opportunity, smartphones are keeping pace too. Even at an entry-level price point, they offer good specs, enough processing power and more RAM to help users play intensive games. Other features such as haptic feedback, better display resolution and chips that can handle heavy gaming experiences are some offerings that are improving the overall mobile-gaming experience. “Today, a smartphone provides a holistic experience since a specific age group isn’t targeted. Devices are designed in such a way that they provide a perfect gaming experience even as a user carries on his or her day-to-day functions without lags,” says Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India.
Chandrahas Panigraha, senior director and consumer business head, Acer, adds, “Instead of playing simple games, consumers can now explore more evolved games, as smartphone makers are meeting the criteria required to keep customers hooked. Even established gaming companies are working with smartphone developers to make a smooth transition to mobile by creating versions of their popular franchises.”
The consensus, in the end, is that one can expect more adaptations in the future. But the games will need to evolve in terms of game mechanics, design and monetisation models to cater to the opportunity that exists in the market.