The lights are on
I recently came across this user review for Angry Birds Star Wars in the App Store: “Best game ever made!!!”
I can’t help but cringe when I see these sorts of comments. People are entitled to their own opinions, of course, and flinging miniature birds toward destructible objects is indeed a swell time. Nevertheless – and I say this as plainly as I can – Angry Birds Star Wars is not the best game ever made.
But there’s no use in denying it. The world of video gaming is changing, and the above user’s sentiment is a common one. Mobile games have become increasingly popular in recent years, some of them astronomically so. Angry Birds was originally released for iOS in 2009. In the four years since then, Rovio’s games have been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times across platforms worldwide. To put that number in perspective, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles share a combined worldwide sales total of around 150 million units. Call of Duty: Black Ops II – the game that broke records late last year by earning $1 billion in 15 days – has sold around 25 million copies.
The staggering popularity of mobile games scares me sometimes, especially when I consider the prominent freemium model, in which a game is initially free but requires consistent in-game purchases for full content access. “What is this world coming to?” I ask myself. “What will become of video games?”
But then I think about the current state of video games more broadly. Including the mobile sector, Americans have spent $3.5 billion on video games this year in the first quarter alone. Although that number hasn’t improved from last year’s first quarter, it’s still incredibly, incredibly high. In comparison, the American box office total for films in this year’s first quarter was $2.3 billion.
I cite all of these numbers to say this: Video games are quickly becoming the most dominant entertainment medium in the world. And, I think, mobile games significantly contribute to that trajectory.
With the advent of accessible, inexpensive mobile games, people who have never played video games before are playing their little hearts out. My girlfriend’s mom, for instance, has been philosophically against video games her entire life. Last summer, she called in sick to work one day because she’d stayed up all night playing Plants vs. Zombies on her iPad. I haven’t let her live that down since.
On page two: How mobile titles are changing gaming for the better.
Many people who are mobile "gamers" don't really get into games that much, just download a game to pass the time but don't have consoles or anything.
There are some good mobile games, like Punch Quest and Ridiculous Fishing, but all in all, they shouldn't really be compared to regular console games.
mobile games are laughably over-acclaimed. best game ever? it cost 99 cents and all you do is one thing over and over again, paying another dollar to do it in different costumes! to me they are a symbol of the lack of purpose and devoid sense of aspiration to individualize
Well at least they generate some income for devs to put towards true blue video games on PC and consoles..
I primarily use mobile gaming to experience games as something to do during loading screens on a console, although i did enjoy GTA Vice City and Rayman Jungle run. Technically Vice city is a console game ported to iOS but i never got the chance to play it the right way.There are good mobile games but they could never match the DEPTH of an console experience. Great article, Matt.
Mobile gaming is good for ports and emulations (Android) of REAL games. i.e. XCOM ios port.
i just like mobile gaming so i can play pokemon and chrono trigger lol
I can see that. Just miss the old days playing Zelda on my 64
The only gaming I do on my phone nowadays is emulating GBA games. It's awesome.
for someone without a DS or PSV its really nice to have games like Sonic and Rayman with me whenever I want.
The thing is I think part of the audience that enjoys handheld gaming such as 3DS or Vita are being drawn more to mobile gaming with little one dollar apps on phones. It is cheaper and much easier to pick up and play in a quick burst style gameplay. Both the 3DS and Vita have suffered in sales and I believe this is one of the main reasons for it. I could be wrong, but I'd really like to see the statistics of sales of older handheld systems like Gameboys compared to current sales of 3DS and Vita systems.