While consoles might have gotten much of the attention at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, mobile games still made a splash on audiences. With so many AAA titles set for 2016 and reports of new consoles, it seemed as though traditional modes of gaming were set to reassert their dominance over mobile games. However, the opposite is true. This might be the year that mobile and consoles finally learn to get along as marquee publishers are beginning to prepare their own offerings for small screens.
While Nintendo chose to use the E3 conference as a platform to promote its upcoming Zelda title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it still had some time to showcase its fledgling mobile division. When considering that mobile gaming has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry it should come as no surprise that companies such as Nintendo are finally starting to take advantage of the new market. The legendary game company finally entered the mobile world with Miitomo earlier this spring. While the app got off to a good start, the interest of fans quickly began to wane, and fans are more excited about the impending release of Pokemon Go. Miitomo was more of a social networking experiment rather than a proper game, so gamers are understandably pumped for a new, honest-to-goodness Nintendo game for mobile devices.
The augmented reality game promises to allow Pokemaniacs to “catch ’em all” in the real world as specific creatures will “appear” at real-life locations where they can then be battled and caught. It’ll be the second of five apps that Nintendo has planned to release by 2017, and it’ll be available for Android and iOS this July.
Where mobile was once considered the territory of indie developers, big name companies have realized the financial potential and are getting in on the action. Bethesda Softworks, developers of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises, already dipped their toes in the water of the mobile marketplace with the Fallout Shelter app last year. Now the company looks poised to build on that initial success with a collectible card game, Elder Scrolls: Legends, based on the popular fantasy franchise. This mobile installment comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Bethesda remastering its smash hit, Skyrim, for PS4 and Xbox One.
Much like Bethesda, Square Enix has experienced a fair degree of success in the mobile market, success they hope to continue in 2016. Hot off the critical and financial achievements of Hitman GO in 2014, Square Enix is doubling down on its own winning mobile strategy. After five long years, the company is finally releasing a sequel to the 2011 hit, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (due August 23, 2016). And sure enough, it’ll be accompanied by the first mobile title for the franchise, Deus Ex GO. The mobile game will follow the same formula as the Hitman spinoff, featuring a top-down perspective with simplified graphics and turn-based, puzzle-themed gameplay. While they certainly haven’t given up on consoles—as evidenced by Deus Ex and the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV—Square Enix has definitely renewed its push toward mobile. The company recognizes, like Nintendo, that the mobile market is an excellent way to provide a monetary windfall for big budget console and PC titles.
It would appear as though fewer and fewer titles are being released for traditional consoles without some kind of mobile companion. It’s also looking like the new Spider-Man game for the PS4 will be no exception. Sony’s Spider-Man was another one of the highlights of the trade show with a new look for the current-gen consoles. Marvel has already long made the character available for mobile devices with through the inclusion of the character in fighting gamers and action-adventure RPGs. By providing so many options that appeal to so many different styles of gamers, Marvel is able to greatly expand the visibility of one of its biggest brands. Presence in pop-culture will come in handy as the company prepares for two big investments in the character with both the aforementioned console title and the highly anticipated film, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Contrary to what you might have heard, mobile is doing just fine. The devices have a significantly larger user base than consoles, numbering in the billions as opposed to millions, and they appeal to everyone from kids to parents of varying interests, not just gamers. The market is estimated to reach $35 billion in 2016 compared to $28 million for console titles. Much of the reason for this disparity between the two is that there are significantly more mobile developers than there are console developers with thousands of companies creating new games for mobile devices.
To give you an idea, there were an estimated 800,000 games available for mobile devices at the beginning of the year compared to a mere 17,000 available for both consoles and PCs. Helping to flesh out that mobile number is the fact that there are platforms offering tons of games to potential players. Just look at the casino portal for Betfair, which alone has more than 100 available titles for browsers and mobile devices. These feature a variety of slot-reels with themes for just about everything, from sports to movies to superheroes. These multi-game collections provide hundreds upon hundreds of casual options for players looking for a quick game or two. And thats without even getting into the app stores. With so many titles available through so many different platforms in the market place, it’s easy to see why mobile games make up such a large percentage of the market share.
As smart phones continue to become more ubiquitous, the available user base will only keep growing. If anything, the increased interest in console titles will only help as console gamers will look to mobile to further enhance their playing experience. You can see this with Uncharted 4 and the accompanying mobile title, Uncharted: Fortune Hunter. The mobile game actually unlocks certain items on the console version, providing even more incentive for console gamers to play on their mobile devices as well.
Companies like Nintendo aren’t getting into the mobile market because it’s doing poorly—they’re doing it because it’s the best and most efficient way to make money in the gaming industry today. As more big name developers enter the fray, this competition should only serve to help introduce more quality titles such as the Hitman and Deus Ex games. If one thing is clear, it’s that the future is looking mighty bright for mobile gamers.