Home   >   Industry Voices

Will mobile lead the cross-platform future of triple-A gaming?

Today marks the launch of Apple’s most powerful iPhone ever. Zibra AI's Alex Petrenko examines what it could mean future of gaming on mobile
Will mobile lead the cross-platform future of triple-A gaming?

Apple’s iPhone 15 is now available in stores and features some of the most significant changes we’ve seen in an iPhone for years. With increased power, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro are set to lead the way for bigger and better games on mobile.

In this guest post, Zibra AI’s co-founder and CEO, Alex Petrenko, shares his thoughts on the iPhone 15 and how the latest release from Apple may be the bridge that builds the gap for high end PC and console games to finally leap to mobile devices.

While industry eyes have been elsewhere during the last couple of weeks, a major development took place that could shake up the industry's future. Apple unveiled its new iPhone 15 range while amping up its topline new hardware as “the best game console”.

A platform holder hyping up its own hardware is nothing new to write home about. But the details are intriguing and keep the industry on track for one of its most significant trends: a cross-platform future.

Powering triple-A on mobile

At the top end of Apple’s new range are the iPhone 15 Pro and Max devices. These are powered by its new A17 Pro chip, which houses a 6-core design with a CPU that it claims is 10% faster than before and a GPU that’s up to 20% faster.

To show off just how powerful these devices are, Apple revealed a few blockbuster games coming to the platform: Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, Death Stranding and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Mirage.

Questions remain about the impact on your device, battery power, and just how well they will run - compression and upscaling technology will likely be key here to enable high-quality assets while ensuring smooth performance. But Apple has been hard at work on this for years with its Metal API and MetalFX, while a host of companies are providing development tools to alleviate these issues.

The announcements are a pivotal moment for gaming. Major triple-A blockbusters for PC and console are coming to your phone. And these aren’t just old games eventually arriving on mobile as throwaway ports - Resident Evil Village was only launched in 2021, while Mirage is due to launch in October 2023, with the iOS version set for a 2024 release.

Resident Evil 4 is coming to mobile (image credit: Capcom)
Resident Evil 4 is coming to mobile (image credit: Capcom)

Triple-A games can now find even larger audiences than ever, and mobile hardware can handle a 'real' gaming experience.

Triple-A gaming on the go

Apple's iPhone 15 Pro
Apple's iPhone 15 Pro

The journey to this point has been a long time coming. While the games market had moved on from portable handheld consoles such as the PSP, 3DS and Vita, they’ve now levelled up to triple-A experiences. The Nintendo Switch ushered in a new trend that, as is often the case with Nintendo’s innovations, has led the rest of the industry to sit up and take notice (as Valve has done with the Steam Deck).

“We’ve heard it all before: smartphones are always just years away from offering similar experiences… But now we’ve actually reached that moment.”
Alex Petrenko, Zibra AI

But Apple and smartphone manufacturers at large who have steadily been improving their hardware for years are now starting challenging these platforms. Of course, we’ve heard it all before: smartphones are always just years away from offering similar experiences… But now we’ve actually reached that moment.

For the highest fidelity, consoles and PCs win out, but playing good quality triple-A experiences is now entirely possible on your phone. We’ve already seen it with blockbuster battle royale hit Fortnite and large open-world experiences such as Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail. Huge console IPs have also been getting the mobile treatment, from Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile to the now cancelled Apex Legends Mobile.

As the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck have shown, many consumers will pay money to play triple-A games on the go, even on smaller screens. Smartphone devices are now becoming their own consoles.

Throwing down the gauntlet

It sets a major challenge for console manufacturers who offer their games on just a single, stationary device. It’s no wonder Microsoft, as shown through recently leaked documents, wants the next Xbox to sit across all devices. By the time the next generation of consoles comes around, releasing its big console titles on mobile might just be a completely viable option - and it fits with its mantra of playing games everywhere.

To that end, games on mobile devices won’t even have to rely on cloud streaming technology to run, enabling offline play and access in areas with poor internet connections. In theory, powerful devices could leverage cloud technology not just to stream the full game but to offload some processes to the cloud to further empower the experience.

As Apple’s Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel recently said in an interview with IGN: “I think they say the best game console is the one you have with you”. With the emerging cross-platform trend, mobile could just play a key role in triple-A gaming’s future, even without the cloud.

In just a few years, this kind of raw hardware power won’t just be in the top-end mobile phones like it is now; it’ll trickle down to the mainstream, too. Mobile already dominates revenue across platforms, but this new tech could upend the console ecosystem. The way the future of the industry is shaping up is undeniable, it’s about gaming anywhere, and that could eventually leave consoles as we know them today in the dust as the chief platform for triple-A games.

Edited by Paige Cook