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The demise of console gaming: Mobile’s takeover has done wonders for virtual gaming houses

By Bradley Wicks on 12th September 2018

Leading tech writer Bradley Wicks looks at the demise of console gaming and why the mobile revolution has helped to strengthen virtual gaming houses.

Since the pixelated birth of Pong and the Atari in the ‘70s, the gaming industry has levelled up faster than a Fortnite fanatic with an infinite supply of V-bucks. Today, mega machines that make primitive consoles look like paperweights fulfil our addiction to virtual realities. But over the last few years, these box office eclipsing consoles have had to learn to share the limelight with an altogether more portable foe.

As I write, it’s estimated that the global gaming market (mobile, PC and console) is worth a staggering $137.9 billion. According to Newzoo – a gaming market intelligence company – this is expected to grow to at least $180 billion by 2021. Further stats from Newzoo show that mobile devices now control 51% of this interactive market, while PC holds a 24% share and consoles cling on to 25%.

This rapid growth is no doubt related to technological advancements and the world’s continued devotion to video games, vitamin D deficiencies, and sugar-laced energy drinks. But it doesn’t explain why gamers are abandoning traditional wired platforms for their mobile counterparts, and why the dominance of these parallels are now dwarfing conventional consoles.

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It’s estimated that the global gaming market (mobile, PC and console) is worth a staggering $137.9 billion

Ironically, it’s modern consoles and the incredible games they play that have brought about this polarisation: flawless story telling, super realistic sport simulations, and fast-paced shoot- ‘em-ups have taken gaming out of dark student bedrooms and placed it on an attractive pedestal that’s alluring to the masses. The result is a customer base that demands more.

In this age of gaming, ‘more’ equates to the immediacy and portability of mobile gaming. Console giants like Nintendo and PlayStation both offer these services with varying success, but their portable devices don’t scratch the surface of the smartphone market.

In an article on consultancy.co.uk, research from professional services firm Deloitte shows that 85% of the adult population now have access to a smartphone. More than that, the penetration of smartphones into adults’ pockets has forced developers to produce games that are entertaining enough to hold our attentions for longer than a bus journey.

A fantastic example of this entertainment can be seen in the world of online bingo. Online gaming sites offer a different thrill to console gaming, and these thrills are starting to gain serious traction among gamers.

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Since the pixelated birth of Pong and the Atari in the ‘70s, the gaming industry has levelled up faster than a Fortnite fanatic with an infinite supply of V-bucks

While consoles provide traditional challenges – we’re faced with a task; we solve that task and unlock the next level and better gear as a reward, ultimately progressing further to beat the game and the developers that built it – online bingo sites and apps provide a vast range of games all under one roof, meaning boredom thresholds are usually not reached.

These kinds of PC and mobile games also offer real-world prizes, such as cash. A financial incentive such as this is unachievable in recreational console gaming, unless you’re incredibly talented and can reach the highest levels of competency, therefore beginning a career in professional e-sports – every kid’s dream!

Mobile gaming is also a more inclusive platform than the console sector for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s much cheaper! The current-generation consoles are more accurately described as home entertainment systems: they play your favourite games and Blu-rays; they act as streaming hubs for music, movies and TV series; some even allow you to watch live TV through them. As a result, the price tags aren’t the kindest.

At the time of writing, the Xbox One X will set you back roughly £450.00. Its closest contender – The PlayStation 4 Pro – costs on average £400.00. Mobile and PC gaming devices come in at a fraction of this price and now offer the same levels of gaming.

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Research from professional services firm Deloitte shows that 85% of the adult population now have access to a smartphone

Secondly, the controls and concepts that need to be understood to enjoy mobile and PC gaming are usually less complicated. Using online Bingo as an example, consider that as long as we have a basic understanding of the rules for the particular slot, table, bingo or fruit spin we want to play, we can dive straight in. If we don’t know the rules, there are plenty of online guides that do a fantastic job of explaining each game to us in simple terminology as well, so even my Nan can join in on the fun!

In comparison, consoles require us to master sometimes complicated handsets before even taking our first virtual steps; it can sometimes feel like we’re being punished for our lack of loyalty to their systems.

Ultimately, as we become a generation that craves ease, efficiency, interactivity and immediacy from our gaming platforms, more of us are turning to the emerging mobile gaming market. And as many online sites have proved, if the games are enjoyable, provide a stronger sense of community, and offer us the chance to top up our bank accounts, our consoles can continue to collect dust.