The gaming industry is proving to be an immensely profitable business. Technology has facilitated an evolutionary climate that has redefined the possibilities of video games countless times. From the 2D pixels showcased in games of the past, to the realistic marvels boasted by today’s consoles, video games have become a mainstream fascination. The popularity of mobile gaming is one such progression that elevated video games into common vernacular for many people. With smartphones and tablets proving to be viable gaming platforms, some critics believe the next step in the gaming industry’s evolution resides in adapting console games for mobile devices. While the idea is undeniably innovative, I would argue that such a transition has the potential to be tumultuous.
Smartphones and tablets have witnessed extreme technological growth in recent years, improvements which have boosted the number of mobile game developers and publishers drastically. While mobile gaming can undeniably be a lucrative market, there has been a relatively clear division between mobile games and their console counterparts.
Very few companies have chosen to blur the boundaries between the two by making true mobile adaptations of their console titles. Square Enix is one company that has taken the leap by releasing several installments of its Final Fantasy series in app form. Classic titles with more simplistic design and controls are much easier to transition into the mobile world, but what about new releases and contemporary games?
There is an existing sentiment among much of console loyalists that mobile adaptations of console titles are often inferior to the originals in depth and quality. Why would someone play Dishonored on a smartphone – a device limited by lack of a controller, a small screen, and slower processing speed – when he or she could have a more complete experience on a console for example? Limited technology is a prime dilemma in the adaptation model, but it might not be a roadblock forever. NVIDIA predicts that by 2014, mobile gaming technology will even out-rank that of gaming consoles.
It’s fantastic that smartphones and other mobile gadgets can now support more developed games, but that certainly doesn’t mean console and PC gamers are ready to ditch their fixed game centers and swap out their Xbox 360s for tablets.
Each gaming platform is unique, featuring its own mechanics, strengths, and weaknesses. Mobile games are able to incorporate exciting features such as use of GPS, gyroscopic capabilities, camera interaction, and touch-based input, while consoles are able to support more intricate controls and a higher level of detail. Some titles are better suited to the functionality of mobile platforms and other games are more intuitive with a conventional play style.
It is the opinion of this humble writer that adapting console games into mobile apps across the board would be a mistake. The success of games such as the mobile adaptation of Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a good example that mobile versions of console games can thrive, but developers should remain cautious as there are far more instances of adaptive failures than successes.