Opinion: Can we stop pretending that mobile, console and handheld gamers can't all play in the same sandbox?

Opinion: Can we stop pretending that mobile, console and handheld gamers can't all play in the same sandbox?
As we look at the rising success of Supercell, GungHo, or King, it's easy to think that mobile's the only game in town these days to turn a profit.

After all, what console game can boast a daily revenue rate of $4.9 million?

Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V most certainly can - at least at the moment - as it managed to hit a reported sell-through of $800 million in 24 hours.

Wrap your head around that for a second - that's almost 95 times the amount of capital raised by Ouya's storied Kickstarter or one million 128GB iPads, all sold in a single day.

It'd be tempting, easy even, to look at GTA V's success as the resurgence of console games against the rise of mobile.

In reality, it's actually something of a wake up call - a call for the industry to realise that there's stiill room enough in the lives, living rooms, and pockets of consumers for mobile, handheld, and console games to co-exist.

Grand Theft Auto V, Xbox 360/PS3

The artificial either-or dichotomy for mobile and console games has been an issue of some debate lately with thrasonic supporters on both sides attacking the logic of the other.

Many mobile developers (and even mobile journalists) perhaps drunk on the success of outliers like Rovio, GungHo, and Supercell, believe that they represent the sole future of the industry.

Established console studios look at them as little more than a flash in the pan and believe their big-budget games will continue to define gaming as we know it.

No clash

But here's the rub: like a political debate or a row between friends, it can be safely assumed that both sides are only partially correct and that the answer to the conflict, then, lies somewhere between the two extremes.

The boom of Grand Theft Auto V’s sales prove that consumers still want huge, big-budget console games while the success of games like Clash of Clans and Puzzle & Dragons proves that players also want snack-sized games that they can play on the go.

Clash of Clans, iOS

Additionally, the quiet success of Nintendo's 3DS (which has claimed the top-selling hardware spot in the US for the past four months in a row) shows that gamers also want to play games using dedicated gaming handhelds.

These three desires are not mutually exclusive, and I'd wager a good amount of players who picked up GTA V in its first 24 hours have also spent some money on IAPs as well.

All the world's a gamer

What's worse about the mobile-or-console debate is that it's taking away from the potentially amazing harmony that can exist when these technologies work side by side.

Sony's working up great ways to integrate the PS Vita with the PS4, and many huge console games are working in ways to integrate smartphones and tablets into their gameplay - and these are just the start of what we'll see.

Microsoft also has a place in this race - SmartGlass, though still in its formative stages, points the way towards greater integration between its mobile, tablet and console offerings.

Gravity Rush, PS Vita

This is an incredible time to be both a developer and a gamer, and we're seeing projects emerge that were so far beyond our imaginations when we first fired up our Ataris, Nintendos or Segas all those decades ago.

We can play what we want, when we want, wherever we want. Let's not ruin it by pretending that we all can't play nicely in the same sandbox.

US Correspondent

Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.


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Darren Williams
Bravo Matthew.
It's not an especially original idea I'll admit and of course there are resolute arguments about how gaming is especially unique, but the segmentation of gaming platforms and genres is increasingly mimicking the segmentation seen within those other primarily visual entertainment media - TV and Movies.
We as consumers of both TV and Cinema accept the inherent differences between Tv and Cinema.
Comparing The Big Bang Project to the Transformers movies is futile, ridiculous and a waste of time because we are so familiar with the "rules" of those media and so subconsciously judge the experience in a contextual way. Both of these franchises exist perfectly happily alongside each other with neither the creators nor the distributors feeling the need to invite a false comparison with each other. Or to suggest that one media is dying. Or that people are stupid or out of touch for enjoying "rival" media or suggesting that daring to cater to the audiences that enjoy those styles of entertainment is a fools errand.
Yet the games industry, being still so relatively young and turbulent, possesses a somewhat teenage level of insecurity that fuels a need to mock dissenters.
Physical media based gaming, as a means of distribution, is becoming outdated. Yet to assess the content, scale and creative choices of that type of game purely because it comes on a silver disc and that someone - gasp - had to go outside to buy it - is a little silly. And ultimately that kind of commentary is disrespectful to those gamers who enjoy a full on AAA TV / monitor based gaming experience. You'll never gain agreement by telling somebody they are wrong.
The next step for the industry is to shed the idea that this is a zero sum game. There are more people than ever playing, enjoying and paying for game content. Let's not think that the future of gaming demands a Stalinist purge of rogue platforms and ideas.
Fraser Ross MacInnes Product/Design Director at Danke Games
I don't know - you can play a piano concerto on a much more portable nose flute, but I'm not convinced that means we always should.

I have nothing against the idea but I think it's clear that some types of experience just don't work well on certain platforms. Products that transcend platforms with tailored inter-connected experiences are cool, but they are one of those things that get pundits and technologists excited, but have no market proof as mass market propositions.

The concept and the tech has been around long enough now for a meaningful number of good products to emerge that share virtual worlds but which offer different kinds of window through which to explore them - and yet, I can't think any really great examples.
Nicolas Godement-Berline
GTAV is an outlier, even more so than the likes of Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga or Puzzle & Dragons.

I really don't want big screen TV gaming to die (and don't think it will), but you can't ignore the fact that units shipments are decreasing.
See this article: http://www.asymco.com/2013/09/09/game-over/

Console games arent going to die overnight, but they're certainly losing popularity to mobile games.

Wild prediction: big screen gaming will pick up once again outside of consoles on multi-functionnal consumer devices that happen to play games too, such as smart boxes.
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