Microsoft caused a bit of a stir when they announced the Xbox One. With users only being able to share games with friends once, and having to connect to the internet every 24 hours, it isn’t looking set to be the most popular device.

But does this even matter? Aren’t people playing more games on their smartphones now anyway?

If you want a device that needs to be connected to the internet – why not just game on your smartphone? You can game from the same device you send your emails from, keep your calendar in and carry around in your pocket.

Is there even a place for consoles anymore?

The use of portable, handheld consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vito is expected to deteriorate at an average rate of seven per cent a year over the next five years. A recent report by market analysts IDC showed that the portable, handheld console category is being overtaken by smartphones and tablets. In fact, they’re becoming so popular that the amount of paying mobile and tablet gamers is expected to pass the number of handheld console gamers worldwide by the end of 2013.

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Android has become particularly popular according to IDC Research Manager of Connected Consumer: Gaming Service, Lewis Ward: “Android remains quite fragmented but it is on its way to becoming a massively popular gaming platform.”

The phones growing ability to render awesome games

The stats of people using mobile gaming more and more doesn’t really come as a surprise when you consider the spec of the most recent phones. For example, the HTC One runs on a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor which is capable of handling powerful 3D graphics cards for sharp, colourful fast games. The Samsung Galaxy S4 sports similar spec while also boasting a 1080×1920 pixel resolution on its display. So, it’s easy to see why people would be tempted to use their phones.

Why the games work

Let’s face it – everyone loves freebies and there are a lot of free games out there. People begin by downloading mobile games for free and before they know it they’re happy to spend that 69p on the ones that aren’t. Seeing as games for handheld and home consoles will probably be over £20, it’s no wonder people prefer a mobile alternative.

The Candy Crush Saga recently became the most downloaded mobile game, with 14.7 million active users a day. The game was designed for ‘casual gamers’ – not necessarily for those you imagine to be sat in front of their consoles playing World of Warcraft for 12 hours a day. It was meant to be approachable, easy to play in little bursts, but soon it was clear that people were addicted.

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Mobile gamers have so much choice now, as more and more developers are actually creating smartphone games. At the Games Developers Conference 2012 they conducted a survey of 2,500 developers and found that 55 per cent of them were making games for smartphones and tablets, and 58 per cent were actually making their next game for these devices. A mere 13.2 per cent were developing games for the Xbox 360 and 13 per cent were working on a game for Playstation 3. This clearly shows that it isn’t just handheld consoles which are suffering from the development of smartphones.

Who’s playing games on their mobile phone?

One of the main reasons mobile gaming has become more popular is because it does have a different target audience. Mobile game creators want their games to be approachable by anyone who owns a smartphone.
Last year, a survey by social gaming experts MocoSpace found that it was actually women over 30 who were most likely to be found playing mobile gamesnot exactly your stereotypical gamer. In fact, a quarter of women over that age are thought to spend three hours a day playing them. And it’s not just at home that people are playing them either. According to iBingo, the typical iPhone user spends an average of hour a week playing mobile games during working hours!

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The great thing about gaming on your smartphone is that it’s also hugely interactive. The majority of people nowadays own a smartphone which means people can share their gaming experience with family and friends easily.

The State of Play – Amplifier Mobile Gaming Study for Q2 2013 found that ‘word of mouth’ was the way that mobile gamers discovered new games with 43 per cent reading user reviews, 36 per cent hearing from a friend of family member and 25% getting a game after seeing a friend of family member actually play it.
Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus and Twitter were also a big hit for sharing.

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Is this bad for the gaming industry?

Luckily, gaming manufacturers can rest assured that both handheld and normal games consoles still have a loyal following in the form of traditional gamers. This was clear from the hype surrounding the recent E3 event alone. These machines have more superior graphics, battery life and general performance that traditional gamers know and love.

However, it does mean that they have more competition than ever before, and they will lose sales to more casual gamers – who now use their cost-effective phones instead of buying an expensive console.

xboxone-vs-ps4

Games console manufacturers will have to find a way to make their products more appealing than the smartphone – maybe by exploring the more social side. For this reason you can understand why the Xbox One is a device which needs to be connected to the internet, although perhaps not every 24 hours. Microsoft could just be trying to find a way to keep up with the ever-changing industry – we’d recommend trying to do this in a way that doesn’t upset quite so many people next time though.

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