Mobile apps break console gaming's hold over the boxed video game industry

With experts predicting revenue from mobile gaming will eclipse those of console gaming in 2015, we look at what this means for the future.

Is the decline of boxed console gaming inevitable? Its future downward spiral already played out by the CD and, to a lesser extent, the DVD/Blu-ray. In the latter-half of the 20th century, the three towers of home entertainment (film, music and video games) were all found within physical technology. Whilst companies changed the format – due to technological advancements – with vinyl being replaced by CD, cassette by DVD and cartridge by disc, the basic premise remained the same. Namely, that there was a machine and a physical data-holder that, when combined together, provided the home entertainment.
However, with the dawn of download and increasingly memory capability, the end of this traditional set-up was ensured. CD was the first to concede defeat, with Apple’s iTunes leading a MP3 assault that has left physical singles buried and physical albums gasping a death rattle. DVD’s successor Blu-ray appeared to have turned the tide but the emergence of Netflix, and other streaming services, has also left this format bloodied and battered. Therefore, it was unsurprising that boxed console gaming was the next in the firing-line, with the trigger being pulled by mobile apps.
Mobile gaming no longer a gamble
The emergence of mobile apps as a competitor, and expected conqueror, of boxed console gaming can be contributed to two primary factors. Firstly, the emergence of mobile casinos. Online casinos – such as NetEnt online casinos, which you can play here – attracted gamblers with its instant play, real-money casino games complete with lucrative NetEnt bonuses. It soon became apparent that seasoned and amateur gamblers alike were more than prepared to forgo the traditional casino experiences of Las Vegas or Monte Carlo for the accessibility and ease of the online equivalent. Considering this, it was somewhat surprising that none of the major console developers jumped on this money-spinning format. Therefore, when app stores began stocking mobile casinos, officiated by respected online casino companies, it tapped into a huge market that was not catered for by either home or handheld consoles.
In the palm of your hand
Second, even if you were not a fan of online gambling, the technological advancements in mobile technology meant that previously console, or handheld, exclusive titles such as Grand Theft Auto or Final Fantasy were suddenly available, in their entity and with a cheaper price-tag, on the mobile format. This ability to have these respected, and loved, console-gaming experiences located within a mobile device already capable of holding users’ music collections and video streaming accounts, proved irresistible to consumers. Therefore, the battle had begun but the war had already been lost.
The figures speak for themselves
The wheels that had been set in motion by mobile casinos and console ports came to fruition in the predicted revenues of both mobile gaming and console gaming in 2014. According to Newzoo, mobile gaming will bring in around $30 billion globally in 2015, a rise of $5 billion year-on-year. Meanwhile, console gaming will fall from $26.9 billion in 2014 to $26.4 billion in 2015. An admittedly slow erosion but, when contrasted against the sharp incline of mobile gaming, will soon create a massive deficit between the two formats. Moreover, the attractive low-production costs of the mobile format, combined with the accelerating budgets of console offerings, could potentially lead to desertion by some developers.
Apple of our eyes
It is unsurprising; consider it’s disembowelling of the physical music format, that Apple is once again leading the app assault on console gaming. Apple remained in 2014 the biggest contributor to mobile gaming’s global revenue, just beating Google Play’s total of $3 billion dollars. Whilst, as the format becomes increasingly popular, it will be unlikely that Apple will retain its complete domination, what is certain is that mobile gaming – as a collective – will claim the video-game throne. However – as Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft – will tell you, no-one remains at the top forever.
Image source: Cristiano Betta

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