It doesn’t get more casual than mobile gaming.
I’m not saying that in a defamatory way. But any game you can play while on the toilet is hardly in the same realm as Dark Souls.
Regardless, the mobile gaming industry is a behemoth, and it’s easy to see why. They’re quick, flashy games with instant gratification that you can play while waiting for the bus. And if like me and have children in your family, then you know that brandishing a smartphone will make you the pied piper of those snot-nosed rugrats. In the US, children were estimated to have generated over $500 million for the mobile gaming industry. It’s not just kids, people of all ages are feeding the mobile industry beast, and it has quickly dwarfed both the PC and console markets.
So, what’s the harm? A booming mobile gaming industry is good, right?
Well, I’m not so sure.
Now, I’m not trying to trigger anyone’s PTSD. But we all remember the Diablo announcement that will forever be immortalised (get it?) by Blizzard’s new battle cry: “Do you guys not have phones?”. This was a blatant disregard of a loyal fan base. And if Diablo, a staple of PC gaming, was capable of being made into a mobile game, then anyone could be next.
So, why are the big players in the industry flocking to mobile gaming?
There’s one key reason why companies like Blizzard and others are looking to enter the mobile gaming market, and that’s profit. Mobile games are considerably cheaper to produce as only a small team and a short time frame is needed to make them. This means less spent on wages and more profit for the investors. Now, I don’t blame a company for trying to make a profit, that’s why they exist. But, and this is a big but, not at the expense of overall quality and consumer satisfaction, which is exactly what Blizzard did with Diablo Immortal, as evidenced by the booing and the subsequent crash of their stock price. I imagine the mood at Blizzard was a little chilly that week…
Fallout Shelter is a prime example of how to bring together AAA titles with mobile apps.
Now, I’m not saying that AAA and mobile gaming cant co-exist. For example, Fallout Shelter added to the overall Fallout universe without taking centre stage and feeling like a quick cash grab. Companion apps like Fallout Shelter are a fantastic way to drum up hype while also raking in enough money through micro-transactions to make Scrooge McDuck red in the face.
So, does this mean the PC and console industry will soon be engulfed and destroyed by the mobile industry?
Of course not, where there is demand, you will always find supply. However, the Diablo Immortal fiasco has set a dangerous precedent where AAA games go from a big budget to something more akin to a student project. Perhaps the Diablo Immortal incident will be a warning to other publishers thinking about migrating their games to the App Store. On the other hand, this could be the first of many attempts by publishers to push their titles into the mobile market.
Either way, I guess we will always have something to play while on the toilet.