The popularity of gaming as a hobby has been growing year on year. We are now raising the first generation of children whose parents grew up with video games in the home, whether that was on consoles or PCs, and as such gaming is developing from a solo pursuit to something all the family can do.
There are games for toddlers all the way through to grandparents, games with educational elements built-in, and those which are purely for fun. Party games which pit players against each other in singing, dancing, or trivia battles are rivaling the traditional online multiplayer function as a way for groups to game together.
All these changes have seen the idea of a stereotypical gamer disintegrate: games are now well and truly for everyone.
A large part of the driving force behind the widening of the gaming market was the development of mobile gaming. 3.8 billion people worldwide own smartphones, many of them not pc or console gamers. But the creation of social games like Farmville and casual games like Candy Crush Saga reached out to smartphone users who wanted something fun to do and gave them the perfect way to blend their phones with entertainment.
The mobile gaming market started to expand in 2012 and it has seen a meteoric rise ever since. In fact, since 2012, the mobile gaming market has grown faster than both the PC and console markets combined, and now has around a 50% share of the entire gaming industry.
But how do mobile devices compare to PCs for quality? There’s no denying the fact that smartphones and tablets have become more powerful over the years, but so have PCs. PCs and laptops were the first machines to bring in 4K displays, showing games in clearer detail than ever, but it wasn’t long before mobiles caught up.
However, the increased drain on mobile batteries meant that you couldn’t settle in for a long gaming session unless you had your charger or a battery pack to hand.
The increased processing power for mobile devices paved the way for PC franchises to launch their games for mobiles, and soon portable versions of popular games like Grand Theft Auto and Borderlands were playable on the go. However, so-called ‘triple-A’ games, those games which require massive amounts of processing power and high-definition displays, cannot be slimmed down to a mobile version.
These games are amongst the most popular titles, including FIFA, Witcher, and Battlefield, and as long as they remain unplayable on mobile devices, PCs will retain the upper hand amongst gaming purists.
One way that the mobile gaming industry has found a way to appeal to hardcore gamers is through the remaking and reissuing of classic games which bring gamers back to their roots. Mobile versions of PC and console classics such as Dungeon Keeper, Mario Kart, and Rollercoaster Tycoon help gamers reconnect with their youth.
While they’re not exactly the same, there’s enough nostalgia blended with modern models – like being freemium games – which have assured millions of downloads. Other franchises have tapped into the nostalgia element to release entirely new games set in familiar worlds, with Pokemon Go probably the most well-known example.
Mobile devices have also proved to be an immensely popular platform for casino games. Their simple designs are perfect for running in apps, and the added touch-screen functionality has made games like poker and blackjack even easier to play. Online slots work particularly well on smartphones and tablets, they’re easy to pick up and play, and you can even find many companies offer the incentives of free spins, so they won’t make a dent in your wallet either.
Of course, there is no reason why PC and mobile gaming platforms have to be in competition with each other. In fact, cross-platform promotions might well be the way forward. The Assassins Creed games Black Flag and Revolution had mobile companion apps which let players continue certain aspects of the game on their phones.
The franchise has also released mobile games set in the same universe, including a card game and Assassin’s Creed: Identity, the franchise’s first RPG game. With game developers continuing to work with both PC and mobile technologies, it looks like gamers are set to get the best of both worlds.
One of the biggest downsides to the rapid expansion of the mobile gaming sector is that the marketplace has become oversaturated. Because it is easy to publish the games, anyone with basic skills and a desire to do so can put their game out there. This has effectively removed any sort of quality control, and as a result, the vast majority of mobile games are of poor quality, both visually and in terms of gameplay.
With many games also trying to capitalize on the successes of others, usually through copycat branding, the original apps can get lost in the noise. Trying to shift through dozens of similar apps to find the best one can be exhausting, and many people would just give up. Yet the mobile marketplace does offer a chance for indie developers to have success, whereas the pc gamer market remains dominated by triple-A games.
Ultimately, the question of whether PC or Mobile gaming is best is going to depend on the genre of game you like to play. For casual gamers and social gamers, a mobile device is perfectly adequate to play these types of games. But for players who prefer MMORPGs, HD shooters, and open-world epics, the PC is always going to be the machine with the capacity and processing power to showcase these games to their best ability.