Mobile Phone Games Are Not a Threat to Traditional Gaming

This is something I hear all the time on gaming news sites, and from so-called gaming “analysts” that mobile phone games are becoming so popular they are replacing not only traditional handhelds, but also console gaming. This is total garbage. You see, internet, there is a certain amount of statistic blindness going on here. The one game that every “analyst” focuses on is Angry Birds, and why wouldn’t they? It was released in 2009 for the iOS, and now has multiple games across multiple platforms and has sold over 500 million copies. That is extremely impressive, but those stats don’t mean anything.

Stop looking at me like that, its true

You see, internet, “analysts” don’t take into account several really important variables. Firstly, Angry Bird’s huge success is the exception not the rule. It has made a major cultural impact spawning all sorts of merchandize, and has invaded many different platforms. Attributing its success to all Mobile Phone games is a logical fallacy and would be like judging all PC games by Plants vs. Zombies. Secondly, there is the disposable nature of these games. These games are not intended to be played for more than a half an hour at a time. This moves to my last and most important point: the market for Mobile Phone games is completely different from traditional gaming.

That man’s hands are putting everything they have into that phone

Mobile Phone games have tapped into a source of consumer that has not traditionally been interested, and continues to be uninterested in traditional gaming. Do you remember the Wii? It sold millions, putting itself far beyond Sony and Microsofts consoles to this day. This forced Sony and Microsoft to develop their own motion capture controller (or lack thereof). However, the kinds of “gamers” that the Wii attracted were people who traditionally did not play games. These people have not bought more games for the Wii, because Wii Sports is more than enough for them. If they wanted more, they went for Mario, because everyone likes Mario. This is why the Wii has so many consoles out there, but third party developers won’t develop for the machine. Mobile Phone gaming is in its infancy and Angry Birds has shown that there is money to be made. However, the question is, whether or not people playing Angry Birds will care to try out new iOS games.

Hammer app: when you want to hammer something with a $500 phone

Of course then we get to other successes like Infinity Blade. This game tries to cater to a traditional gaming audience with its excellent graphics and medieval setting. It and its sequel has sold very well and would seem to be another feather in the cap of iOS supporters. No one will deny that its a good iOS game, as is Angry Birds and Sword and Sworcery. These games are made to pass time on the bus or on the plane or while waiting in line, and they accomplish these goals perfectly. But lets not be stupid, Mobile Phone games do not compete with traditional gaming devices. If you did directly compare them, Mobile Phone games fall flat. Infinity Blade 2 isn’t actually a good game. If it were released for the PSP, I would say it was total crap that wouldn’t last more than a couple of hours. The point is, that Mobile Phone games aren’t intended to go up against real gaming, they are fun budget priced titles that are mere distractions.

Great on the phone. Bad everywhere else

The point I’m getting at in this post is that Mobile Phone games arent’ a threat. As idiot developers run to make another boring physics game for 99 cents, they don’t realize that most Mobile Phone games are terrible and fail miserably. There is no golden goose. You either have to get lucky (Angry Birds) or put effort and money into it (Infinity Blade). Handheld gaming occupies itself with delivering $50 games that will last a long time. Mobile Phone games (that are good) deals with $5 games that you’ll be done with very, very quickly. Both serve purposes and neither endangers the other.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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