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.
Great article. It's made me realize why so many huge developers out there have started making stuff for mobile platforms.
Part 1: Release game on console
Part 2: Wait for sales profits
Part 3: If it doesn't do well (or they simply want to sell more) put it on mobile market
Part 4: Casual gamers will come across these triple-a experiences and get the consoles to have more like them.
It's actually really brilliant, and making more people aware of how great Video games truly are, and popularizing them.
I don't have a problem with mobile games in general, I recognize that they have a place in the industry even if I couldn't care less about them. However, it is upsetting when good console developers are lost to the mobile space. Also I am not fearful of the blockbuster console experiences going away as that clearly won't happen, but rather I am a little worried about how console developers may integrate mobile models into their titles moving forward.
Well, I suppose I could concede some of your points.
I really am not a fan of mobile games. I understand how they can be enjoyable and all, but I really have never found an app for my smartphone that has been able to hold my attention for more than 1 week. I absolutely hate the freemium model, and I also hate paying for an app that I'll play for maybe one week. I have some mobile games on my phone, but I rarely use any of them.
I see all the arguments about false comparisons and such not relating to popularity. Here's my test to solve the issue. Make GTA 5 $0.99. And have one week a month where it's free. See how many people download it then. I can tell you that I downloaded Angry Birds, and played it for awhile. I haven't touched it in months, and in fact deleted it from my iphone. But apparently I still add to their numbers. I will spend tons more time in GTA 5 than I did in Angry Birds. Of course the path with the least commitment will always be the most popular in modern society.
I don't think your poularity = respect agument holds merit. People who know about video games only through games like angry birds aren't likely to hold much respect for them. And I'm yet to see mobile integration to a triple A title be done well.
Very well written, Matt.