Phones & tablets | the sleeping giants of mobile gaming

Up until recently I’ve not taken much notice of the Android gaming scene, or rather the potential of Android as a gaming platform.  While I’ve read plenty articles stating that mobile gaming has (and will) put a significant dent in the console gaming market in recent years, in my experience Android games (even the most popular ones) such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja have served merely as distractions to kill time and as such, I’ve not put much thought in the prospect of how smartphones and tablet PC’s can level the playing field…until now.

In comparison to computer and video-gaming, Android as a gaming platform is still in its infancy.  Mobile, handheld gaming has been around for a while now, and received a lot of attention back in 1989 with the introduction of the Nintendo Game Boy (discontinued in 2003) and later, the Sega Game Gear (1990 – 1997).  The Game Boy and Game Gear would become the building blocks for future handheld consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, and up until recently I never really thought of Mobile phone games as threatening, least of all to current generation consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  So what changed my mind exactly? Well, a game called Dokuro did.

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Dokuro, initially a PlayStation Vita game, ported to the Android platform.

Dokura is a PlayStation Vita game that has been ported to iOS as well as Android.  I was ignorant to the fact that PlayStation Vita games were being ported to other platforms and while I own several Android devices and do play the occasional bout of Angry Birds, as I stated before, it merely served as a time-killer.  Out of boredom I decided to Google search the ‘top Android games of 2013’ and sure enough, amongst that particular list was Dokuro as well as a handful of screens to accompany it, convincing me immediately that this game required further investigation.

So I won’t be doing an in-depth discussion on Dokuro as that isn’t the focus of this article, rather I intend on backing my claim – that Android is a viable alternative to what’s available and is an emerging ‘superpower’ of gaming.  Now there are a few things one needs to take into consideration, for one, bear in mind that mobile phones are like PC’s – everyone has one and everyone needs one.  Mobile phones are also evolving faster than consoles (again like PC’s), and as they continue to increase in power, they become more and more lucrative as a gaming platform.  Think about it, both Sony and Microsoft spend millions trying to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash because I’m sure they realize that unlike mobile phones, the next generation of console is not a necessity.  Everyone needs a phone, after-all we live in an age where a 3366923656constant means of communication is mandatory throughout our daily lives (BBM, Whatsapp, Skype and so forth).  So the power of modern mobile phones allows manufacturers the opportunity to exploit the market, with visually pleasing and stimulating mobile experiences such as Dokuro.  There is an estimated 6.8 billion mobile phones on the planet, with iOS and Android making up 91.1% of that total.  Now factor in that of that 91.1%, each device is capable of playing games, of which a large amount are available free-to-play and you indeed have a gaming juggernaut on the horizon.  As PlayStation Vita games continue to be ported, it tells me that mobile phones are becoming worthy competitors to dedicated gaming consoles, be they portable or otherwise.

Let’s conduct an experiment, I will compare the specifications of the PlayStation Vita to that of the Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4 (as I have one), to see how the world’s most popular mobile compares to a dedicated video-game console.

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As you can see, mobile phones have evolved into powerful mini-computers, able to compete with leading brands of mobile console, even surpassing the visuals of some PC and console games all together, just look at Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour (pictured below).  At the same time, due to the accessibility of mobile phones, I’d imagine that Android would be the perfect platform for indie-game developers to unleash their creations on, and perhaps Sony have foreseen this and in lieu of that fact,  allowed indie-developers to publish their own games, such as with the PlayStation 4 in order to gain a better foothold on the gaming market.

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Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, on par with many first-person shooters available today.

Mark my words, the day will come where the likes of the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS will be considered to be part of a niche market, a time when mobile phones, regardless of manufacturer, will be easily synced with the latest and greatest offering from Sony and Microsoft.  Mobile phone/tablet gaming is definitely here to stay, and while it certainly wont extinguish console gaming all together, it will continue to encroach upon the domain that manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo thought to be theirs.

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