Mobile Mavens

The Mobile Gaming Mavens on whether consoles can combat smartphones at E3

Your move Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo

The Mobile Gaming Mavens on whether consoles can combat smartphones at E3

The Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

The proximity of E3 in Los Angeles and WWDC 2012 in San Francisco means the console versus smartphones battle – one Nintendo refuse to admit exists – is likely to heat up.

With E3 up first, we asked the Mavens:

What do Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo need to unveil at E3 to halt the shift away from consoles towards smartphones? And is talk of a subscription-based Xbox 360 a sign that lessons have already been learned?


Jon Hare Owner Tower Studios

Microsoft needs to wow us with its Windows 8 tablet and - I'm assuming - its connectivity to TV, internet and phones.

Sony and Nintendo need to sell up to Microsoft and Apple, because - in the long term - consoles have had their day.

Let's hope the smartphone market doesn’t turn into the mobile games market over time. I dream of a new tablet market more like the home computer market - now that was an era when developers could really make more money, more easily.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

I essentially agree, but we are still a market in transition.

Consoles once offered a way to package hardcore games experiences which could wow you in a simple way, and created a dedicated engaging mode of play which takes over your living room.

The mode of use is still valid, but it has created a premium gaming ghetto that serves neither the player nor the game developers and restricts creativity. There is no coincidence that on browser and smartphones, the introduction of socialised freemium games has completely upended the market vastly increasing its audience.

Sony is the only one that experimented with changing its mindset with PlayStation Home's freemium approach, which despite its flaws, has created a fertile environment for players and developers to create new ways to play on the console in a way only possible with a walled-garden.

But this in itself won't be enough to save the console as we know it because we live in a connected world and the console doesn't play nice - technically and commercially - with the other devices we all have. That means we can't address players consistently on their terms, where and when and how they want to play our gaming brand.

I'm not advocating a one-size fits all games, but I am suggesting that we need a way to use the cloud to create experiences we can share on different platforms with specific experiences within that game designed to make the most of the devices we want to use, the mode of use of play

Platforms need to free themselves of the shackles of the hardware and instead use to cloud to enable experiences that can address all our devices; our tablets, smart TVs and smartphones.

To find ways to simplify that connected open experience which will delight and tantalise us whatever mood we happen to be in. And of course if we put the value in the cloud the impact of piracy essentially diminishes.

I believe the console platforms have to learn from the experience of social freemium games. The premium model at $60 for triple-A releases can only sustain a very small range of games that are able of creating the anticipation to get past that payment barrier.

That lack of choice will continue to stagnate the market. However, moving to a more open, social, freemium model will be a painful transition and one I think the big players are unlikely to embrace.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

Lots of sense in what Oscar says there, but since when did the big console players do the sensible thing?

It will be most interesting to see if Nintendo continues its bravado approach of pretending that smartphones haven't affected the sales of the 3DS - of the 'big three', it has the most to lose.

From the various stories already written about the possible E3 launches, it seems that Sony and Microsoft care more about the threat of the second hand games market than the rise of mobile.

Yes, console games have definitely become ghetto-ised around the triple-A titles that can turn a profit, and in turn, those games now offer such a degree of longevity that consumers are buying fewer games, effectively creating a catch-22.

The Xbox rental scheme is just hire-purchase with a different name. It's a clever way to get people who don't have $300 in their pocket to buy a console. But that doesn't change anything about the gaming experience or the usage model.

I don't see the next generation of consoles shifting much at all. Hopefully we'll see disruption from the outside, with some new players trying ideas around the cloud. But all this means is that for another two to four years, iOS and Android will continue to be a huge opportunity for game developers who are disillusioned with consoles as they are today.

Thomas Nielsen Osao Games

In my mind, all of the console manufacturers need to reinvent their business models, fast.

Obviously the clock is ticking on the old boxed, high street games model, but I think it goes deeper. The amount of people you can get to pre-invest in an expensive 'set-top box' is going to decrease dramatically, and possibly faster than anyone thought if someone manages to disrupt the market.

And there's opportunity to do that. Onlive box. Apple TV. Not necessarily any of those specifically, but anyone else who can produce cheap hardware with clever cloud components.

The next console will be free, run games and streaming content, and the business model will be based around content purchasing.

Graeme Devine CEO / Co-Founder GRL Games

I don't think there will be any more consoles. Only TV sets with the capability you mention built into them.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Do you want to build the console into the TV or to allow TVs to connect wirelessly to your devices?

I genuinely don't know the answer to that one.

John Golden Senior Director of Marketing PlayPhone

I agree with Graeme - consoles will become chipsets, and content will focus on hardcore, high end games or party games. Console makers have lost their thought leadership position and social innovation.

Microsoft's subscription model is a smart, bold move in the right direction.

Eros Resmini Head of Marketing The Mini Fund

My prediction: tablets will become the new 'consoles', phones will become the new controllers, TVs will remain as the mega screen, PC gaming will continue to live on for the super hardcore.

Alex Bubb Head of Partner Management and Marketing Microsoft Mobile

An innovative and passionate senior marketing leader with a track record over 16 years driving propositions and brand development client-side for leading companies including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Electronic Arts, T-Mobile, Sony, and Canon.

It's an irony that five years ago mobile controls were the biggest barrier to games adoption, but touch innovation broke through.

Consoles still need that 'touch' moment to bring immersive gaming to the mainstream.

That' a great opportunity though and I have no doubt it will happen. Personally, I hope for aggressive new innovation in both accessibility and immersive multi-screen experiences.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.