Apr 17 2012
Mobile Gaming has come a long way since the Nintendo released the Gameboy in 1989. Simple but fun monochrome games and even early attempts at multiplayer modes provided many with their first taste of mobile gaming.
Of course the Gameboy couldn’t provide as an immersive experience as home gaming on a TV screen or PC monitor so mobile games were used to provide a brief distraction or quick blast whilst on the move, and this has remained mainly true until recent times.
The last generation of handheld devices made great strides forward with the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS providing a gaming experience akin to their home console cousins but only now are mobile games starting to challenge as the primary gaming device of choice.
Driving the evolution are the latest range of mobile phones and tablet devices. These devices have become an everyday part of our lives and as they have become more powerful the games that they can pay have developed from Snake to full blown 3D action games.
Originally driven by cheap casual games that are easily accessible through integrated on-line market places, mobile gaming has become big business, allowing bedroom developers to rub shoulders with the traditional big players in games development. No longer is there a need to go to a physical store, with digital downloads providing content, mobile gaming has been a key factor in the shift away from buying games on the high street. Compare Modern Combat 3 on the iPad to Battlefield on the Xbox360 the similarities are greater then the differences.
No longer are dedicated gaming devices required to play high quality games, with powerful processors and high resolution screens, mobile devices have become powerful gaming devices in their own right, forget HD TV’s the highest resolution screen that most gamers will be able to play games on will be the Retina display on the new iPad.
With touchscreen devices the way that we interact with games is changing, most phones don’t have physical controls, so games designers are creating touch screen interfaces which introduces a whole new level of direct interaction with games, you can directly control in game action by touching an object, and this has really helped develop a whole market for direct interaction games. Look at the success of Angry Birds, the ability to directly touch and drag an on-screen rope gave the game an extra level of accessibility and took it the mobile world by storm.
Mobile Gaming Challenges
Traditional arcade style games can struggle to work properly on touch screen devices, these style of games work best with physical tactile controllers, e.g. a Joypad, and the developers of some mobile games have tried to compensate for a
lack of physical buttons with virtual on-screen controls with mixed success, it’s fair to say that virtual joypads work better on larger screen mobile devices then cramped small screen mobiles, but all to frequently buttons are missed in the heat of action. Developers have tried several ways to provide physical controls on mobile devices, in 2003 Nokia released the Ngage phone which featured a D-pad and raised numbers which acted as buttons, a strange design and limited catalogue of games resulted in only limited commercial success and last year Sony Released the Experia Play with an Integrated PlayStation style controller to make the handset appeal to gamers. It’s also possible to connect an Xbox 360 controller to Android devices, these are all workable solutions but to be playable across all devices games need to take advantage of the devices strong point and have a touch interface.
PC quality Gaming on Mobile Phones?
There is no doubt that the gap between Mobile and PC gaming is decreasing but what about if you want that proper full on PC gaming Experience? Thanks to the OnLive games streaming service this is also possible on your Mobile Device. OnLive provides cross platform access to AAA PC titles, and this now includes mobile access through Android clients, with an iOS client becoming available at some point in the future. As long as you have a 3Mb internet connection an incredible library of high quality PC gaming is available to you. The service is still young and there are 1 or 2 big titles missing but as OnLive matures the experience and catalogue will continue to improve, PC Gaming can now follow you around, and because it’s a streaming service there isn’t any need for disks or large installs.
Console gaming will always have a place in the home, but as Mobile gaming continues to improve the boundaries between Mobile and large screen gaming will continue to become blurred. The fact that this quality of games are now available on a device that you always have with you is reducing the requirement for turning on your games console.
Appealing to all demographics, mobile games are becoming the staple for gaming, whilst console gaming is slowly becoming the exception.
About the Author
This has been a blog post by John Lane, John has been playing and enjoying video games since 1982. To read all his Blog Posts Click Here.
You can follow John on Twitter at @videogamejohn