How have mobile gaming apps managed beat the competition?
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Console gaming disappointments like No Man’s Sky and Mass Effect: Andromeda have done little to reverse the trend of people switching to their smartphones for their gaming entertainment.
And last year saw plenty of fascinating developments in the mobile gaming realm that suggest that these handy gaming apps represent the future of our gaming behaviour.
We’ve seen companies like Supercell and Machine Zone consolidating their positions as the titans of the mobile gaming domain through some pretty high-spending promotional packages on traditional media like TV advertising.
And whilst some of their titles are pretty derivative, Supercell’s excellent Clash Royale showed how real-time player-versus-player action is now a central part of the mobile gaming realm, and it also adds an extra twist to the freemium mechanism.
In addition to the highly successful freemium model, other games distributors like LadyLucks have used the concept of the welcome bonus as a way of promoting their mobile casino games. And whilst Nintendo’s kept Super Mario Run available as a simple one-off payment, the fact that the Japanese brand have finally entered the mobile domain is very significant.
Unlike many of the tedious console games like Mass Effect: Andromeda that require the player to put in some serious hours before they even approach an understanding of what the game is about, mobile games thrive on casual play.
Anybody who picks up Super Mario Run can get to grips with the game within seconds, and it’s a concept that’s a central part of any decent casual gaming app, whether it’s a puzzler like Color Switch, or a skateboarding sim like True Skate.
But for biggest reason why console developers should be scared came last summer in a way that even threatened the dominance of Supercell.
This is because Niantic’s Pokémon Go actually required gamers to leave their homes (and consoles) behind in order to play. Much of the hype around mobile games has been about their convenience, but with Pokémon Go making physical movement an essential part of the gameplay, it’s done something that no console game could replicate.
And whilst it’s still some time before such mixed-reality games become a real defining trend, it shows that a thriving independent scene, low pricing strategies, and visionary innovation have helped mobile gaming come out top.