A significant number of adults (and kids) own a smartphone in 2015. Moreover, technology keeps getting more advanced as screens get smaller. Even the world’s most popular search engine, Google, is urging webmasters to make sites more mobile friendly or else suffer the consequences in rankings of search results. It’s becoming a small screen world, so it’s only fitting that gaming follow the same pattern.
The small screen trend began around 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone. In its first year, Apple sold over five million of the products. And, the trend continues to the current day with Android and iPhone sales soaring. At a 2013 conference, it was announced that Android activations had exceeded 900 million.
As smartphones grew more advanced, doing many of the things lap and desktop computers could do, the gaming industry took great notice. Smartphones do not house the same hardware as traditional consoles, yet consumers quickly coveted the convenience and compactness of the alternative. And, in many regards consoles can’t replicate the user experience offered by smartphones.
Regardless as to whether ‘gamers’ completely abandon traditional consoles, it may still be a win-win situation for mobile gameplay. Actually, the popularity of console games may further drive the demand for mobile games; many popular console games are made into mobile games, and while some features are limited, gamers still enjoy and play the abbreviated versions.
The people have spoken, and as mobile devices proliferate, developers will continue to devote energy toward shifting resources to mobile. That means more powerful hardware, faster LTE networking, and better and longer battery life. As with fashion, art, and other industries that rely on trends and ‘hardcore’ advocates, hardcore gamers are adopting the mobile revolution as gaming heads toward a new age.
The Mobile Challenge
Even with plenty of crossover success, the mobile revolution experiences challenges. For example, displaying content on a smaller screen does not measure up to playing on a larger screen at home. However, mainstream brands, such as Apple, seek to address the challenges with export video and adapter products, so mobile content can easily display on larger screens. High-end Android and BlackBerry devices, for example, are equipped with micro HDMI or MHL ports.
Gamers of yesterday may remember a limited number of systems such as NES and Sega. Due to limited technology and the nascent stage of the market, the proliferation of new games at the time was much slower than gamers of today experience. Today, since mobile games require less resources compared to console games, titles can be produced faster, which is a welcome convenience to gamers who have fickle yet loyal attention spans. Whether seeking the next iteration of HALO, or wanting to play Solitaire Arena, accessibility gets better as the time between the next big hit’s release gets smaller.
Time Will Tell
Time moves quickly in the current age, yet it seems as if smaller screens are not going away. Even though smaller screens did not reach great heights of success in previous years (Nintendo’s Game Boy, though popular, never competed with its original NES console or sold as many units as the Super NES or Nintendo 64.), it seems today’s small screens are here to stay. Whether gaming technology needed to ride the coattails of smartphone success or not is a moot point, but, now it does not matter.
Margaret Watson is a creative director for a small game company. She likes to share her industry insights on the Internet. Look for her posts on a number of gaming blog sites.