As smartphones and tablets become more commonplace, they emerge as a potential threat to handheld, console and PC gaming. The pixelated and usually adorable mobile apps have gained noticeable traction in sales during recent years, and with the ease of access to and the production speed of mobile apps, 2014 will be no different. This shift toward mobile gaming is shaping the way all games, console included, are being made.
Apps can do pretty much anything a person could want. If an app doesn’t yet exist, people can built it themselves using app-building sites or by programming their own. This allows people to create their own apps with categories ranging from games to cookbook recipes, allowing users the opportunity to express their own creativity in ways never before possible. People can develop an idea, bring it to life and share it with the world.
The mobile app industry currently grosses billions of dollars annually, proving that human creativity is alive and well. App sales continue to grow and have shown no signs of stopping.
People can protect their own privacy when using mobile apps in public. Not privacy in the information sense — but privacy in the sense that a person can use an app inconspicuously in normal society, whether they’re checking the time of the next bus or are taking over a fantasy kingdom. In the past, only the handheld consoles — namely those created by Nintendo and Sony — made for gaming on the go. Now a person can play games for hours in public without the strange looks they would get if they played Pokémon. Yes, I am bitter.
Apps don’t pose a huge threat to the console gaming industry but have grossed enough cash to make companies turn their heads from console gaming to mobile gaming. Gaming companies, most notably Nintendo with its cuter style, have shifted some efforts from hardcore gaming to more family-friendly entertainment. Handheld gaming will be fighting the most against this shift to app-based gaming, since app gaming is essentially the same as playing with a handheld console. Many of the recent handheld games reflect this by using children’s toys and having said toys go through mini-games to win some weird prize.
The addictive quality of many apps is comparable to the games of other console or PCs. However, apps have the luxury of being accessible anywhere, instead of being tied to a wall and an outlet. This allows gaming addicts to take the addiction on the road without attracting attention. The addictive qualities of most of the apps are readily discussed and some are even rated based on how quick a person can become obsessed with playing on an app.
The gaming industry isn’t taking the change lying down, though. Several companies have embraced the mobile app world by incorporating apps for their games including “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Grand Theft Auto.” These apps allow players to enjoy classic games on their phones. Besides official industry-endorsed apps, developers have created guides to console games in the form of apps, which demonstrates the budding relationship between app and console that the large gaming companies are attempting to foster.
Just to be clear, apps aren’t killing console gaming. Rather, they’re affecting how games are created based on the gameplay of popular apps. The ability to create a wide variety of apps with relative ease is key to the success of the now billion-dollar industry. Gaming companies have taken notice of the success and have begun incorporating aspects of the app world into gaming.
Apps are not just changing the way people game but are helping remove some of the stigma associated with gaming in general. It is common to see people in coffee shops or on buses playing games on their phones like it’s normal. Unfortunately, people still don’t see that playing apps is the same as playing games; the games just don’t have as deep of a story or as good of graphics.
The growth of the app industry will force new technology to be developed by the gaming companies. The forced growth will benefit the gaming world, but the prevalence of apps could also affect more traditional forms of gaming — specifically the handheld gaming systems already on the market — by changing the gameplay to a more mini-game oriented experience.
The gaming world is shifting to a mobile gaming world. The creation of apps is only forcing the change to happen rapidly.