Toss the headsets aside and get ready to turn your backs on the screeching masses of 12 year old boys staying up late to play on XBox Live! The rise of the mobile gamer is upon us…apparently: One in Three Mobile Phone Owners Is a Regular Mobile Gamer.
Being involved in both mobile research and gaming research projects at the moment, the above study caught my eye. It says a lot for how mainstream gaming is becoming, but it also says a lot for the progress of mobile devices. (And yes, I realize that since this is an article and not the actual report there is probably a lot of information that has been lost in translation but stay with me during this post.) This does, however, force me to point out the obvious: Many mobile games are not comparable to console games in terms of depth, gameplay style, or time required for gameplay. With a few exceptions here and there, most mobile games are “quick plays” designed for 10 to 15 minutes of time that can be picked up randomly without any impact to the story. So does that mean that mobile gaming is becoming popular because of how ‘easy’ it is to pop in and out of play? Or, is it symbolic of how mobile our society has become? Maybe both?
Interesting thoughts to ponder, so here is another set of data to include in the ponderings. One of the corresponding statistics to this story is that of 31% of US mobile device owners have smartphones. Of the respondents in the study, 83% of the smartphone owners surveyed indicated that they played mobile games. This last statistic I don’t think anybody should be surprised by as smartphones can support more complex gaming experiences (though their physical design might not make it comfortable to play such games). While this is all interesting/not too shocking/great to see more people catching the gaming bug, it provides fodder for an interesting thought exercise: What will companies do for consumers who own both a smartphone and some sort of home entertainment system with a streaming/recording media device?
The answer is pretty obvious, at least in my mind, for those who own devices with a touchscreen and accelerometer (read: iPhone users, possibly iPad owners). The mobile device can serve as a controller while games can be live streamed into someone’s house and results stored in the cloud somewhere tied to a login name and password. There’s something similar to this already with OnLive, but that’s only streaming the games in to download and play, so not quite the same but close. For those of us who own AppleTV, the streaming device already exists, and with the plethora of apps out there that allow iPads and iPhones to intersect with AppleTV (and other devices, such as DirectTV receivers and Xfinity receivers), it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the mobile gamer who plays Bejeweled 3 while waiting on their date at the restaurant bar will become the next home-based gamer racking up points on a leaderboard and trash-talking their friends.