Game console companies need to face mobile competition head on

Traditional console game companies such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo need to address the growing popularity of mobile games, or face the prospect of being irrelevant like Atari.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor on

Remember the days when kids would spend their afternoons or weekends in an arcade, playing the latest and greatest game? Gradually, that shifted to time spent at home playing a video console game instead. Arcades have all but disappeared from malls, transforming into gaming lounges offering a lineup of the latest from Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony instead.

Fast forward to now, when we see people preferring to play Angry Birds on their mobile devices, versus the older generation who were, and perhaps still are, content with playing something as simple as Pac-Man.

According to TechGig.com, the video game industry is at the start of its eighth console generation with the recently announced Microsoft Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U. Both the Microsoft and Sony video game consoles are planned for release later this year, while Nintendo's device will be shipped in November just in time for the holiday season.

Furthermore, each console generation typically last 5 years with companies promising newer, faster, and more powerful devices in the next generation.

But while mobile games are also increasing in popularity and title selection, they lack the key qualities of traditional console games such as enhanced audio and video, or even a proper storyline. Obviously, being mobile games, there are limitations when compared to video games, but that's the appeal: they are mobile. Gamers prefer having games that load up instantly and can be played while commuting. 

The cost of mobile devices and games are another often overlooked aspect. In India, a video console can cost a person up to a month of their salary and that's not including the games. In that respect, smartphones and tablets are more affordable as are the games on these devices.

If anything, companies such as Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony should embrace mobile games and take it to the next level. Nintendo already has previous success with its famous Game Boy portable handheld device in the 1990s. Iconic as the Game Boy was, Microsoft and Sony now have the advantage over Nintendo as both companies are already directly involved with mobile devices.

If all three companies allocated more research and development dollars for the growing mobile games market, they won't likely be left behind as Atari--which is currently hawking its brand and video game titles to interested buyers--was. Furthermore, with 4G LTE networks in the pipleline, the online games experience can be taken to a whole new level, especially with multiplayer games. 

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