Mobile games have no doubt become a significant part in the game industry. After the invention of smart phones, the app store has now become a brand new rapidly developing platform and new companies have set up just for the purpose of app development. Its convenience not only attracts ‘heavy gamers’, but also ‘light gamers’. Not surprisingly, apps have quickly replaced the once trending social media games market where ‘light gamers’ gathered and have subsequently wilted. One of the greatest victims in this transition period I reckon is the game developer Zynga. You may be familiar with their games such as FarmVille. The combination of social interaction with games in a proper social platform is combusting and in 2009, FarmVille reached 10 million daily active users within six weeks. There seems to be no factor other than racing with your friends that would motivate you to open Facebook, click on your corns and replant them every day. Nevertheless this could only be a temporary spike as the game itself heavily suffered from lack of content. The same features can be found on other contemporary social media platform games, however many developers cannot resist the short term profit thus these light games have started to grow as consumable products, popping up like grasses in spring.
Companies have learned from Facebook games and copied the business model to the mobile game market. Its mobile and real time notification features have scientifically proved to strengthen numbers significantly and gamers do not need to squat in front of their computers anymore. The great potential for profit attracts not only new comers but also some ‘bosses’ in the game industry. Many single players games now companied by their subsidiary mobile version (Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed, for example), are provided with interaction with the original game serving as a minor advertisement. Most of them unfortunately, end up in an awarding position where both ‘heavy gamers’ and ‘light gamers’ have no interest in this version due to the fact that they are made mainly for fans, but not as a game on its own.
Nonetheless, mobile games are not all bad. They provide a platform for individuals and small group developers to showcase their work. Its convenience and user-friendly control also encourages the general public to get in touch of new products, which is harder to achieve in other platforms like PCs. Some old-school style mini games therefore return and remind people of their goods, like Flappy Bird or Angry Birds.
Some people say mobile game will replace console games in the future. This statement may be true, but it will not be occurring in the near future. Mobile games are still restrained by its hardware performance and touch screen-based control, which render it highly difficult to satisfy ‘heavy gamers’ requirement, its performance and game genres, and also the adverse effect of some ‘consumable games’, a mobile game generally can hardly survive in the app store for more than two years. In my view, it is very unlikely that mobile games will replace that of consoles, especially with the new invention of the virtual reality headset, the gaming experience is just incomparable. Mobile games, instead of replacing the consoles’ market portion, are actually expanding among those potential ‘light gamers’. Some companies may however change their focus on mobile games from the abundant console ones due to mobile’s lower entrance fee. Konami is a typical example, with Hideo Kojima, the director of Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill getting fired (also, with the news that Silent Hill P.T. was scrapped), we can only mourn for the unborn and hope no more good games will be sacrificed in this tsunami.