Is Mobile the New King of Gaming?


Surprising absolutely no one at this point, the mobile gaming market has seen some massive growth over the past few years. Last year, it even surpassed the revenue of both consoles and PCs. Smartphones and tablets can have an immense amount of power now, especially when you’re talking about devices like the iPad Pro, which is more powerful than some traditional laptops.

Combine the improved power with the slew of ports coming to app stores, and it’s obvious why mobile gaming is so popular. Users are no longer stuck with games like Angry Birds or Crossy Road. Now players can enjoy popular titles like Chrono Trigger, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Final Fantasy on their mobile devices. Indie titles like Darkest Dungeons and Transistor are making their way to mobile markets. All of these factors have made mobile gaming not only a viable market, but a huge competitor to PC gaming.

Angry Birds
"Angry Birds" byJohan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Mobile and PC gaming are pretty much neck and neck right now, but each has their own individual strengths.

The obvious benefit of mobile gaming is accessibility. Just like the phrase “the best camera is the one you have with you,” the best game is the one you can play when you feel like it. With the improved quality and sheer volume of mobile games, being tied to a gaming PC or even a console is becoming less and less necessary. The mobile market is no longer for casual gamers. It now includes people who are looking for a quality and portable play experience.

Syncing is another key benefit of mobile gaming. Progress you make on your iPhone can be continued on your iPad and can likely be played on browser or desktop version of the game. This flexibility only furthers the accessibility of mobile gaming, and it makes the locked down logic of PC gaming seem like a thing of the past.

Mobile gaming has also created several niche markets, as evidenced by the rise in popularity of mobile bingo. Many online bingo sites are optimized for mobile play and offer convenient apps to play on, as well as free and paid games to appeal to a wider range of users. We've also seen a rise in clicker/idle games on mobile, as this medium is ideal for short bursts of gaming. 

The biggest drawback to mobile gaming is upgrading. Modular mobile devices haven’t really picked up traction, and they likely won’t for several more years (if at all). That means if you want to keep up with the latest graphics and functions of mobile gaming, you have to shell out anywhere between $300-$700 every two years or so. That cost really adds up over time, whereas PCs can often take you a lot farther for a similar price.

That brings us to the pros of PC gaming. The most obvious one is flexible upgrading. As long as your motherboard processor, and RAM are relatively new, you really only need to upgrade your graphics card every few years. Sure, that could cost you upwards of $700 for the latest and greatest card, but even a $200 card provides the standard 1080p PC gaming experience. If you solely play graphically minimal indie games, you can spend even less to get a quality gaming experience.

With flexibility comes maintenance, though. PCs require a lot more upkeep to maximize their potential, and that can quickly turn into an obsessive hobby. It’s easy to let PC maintenance and the pursuit of 60fps consume your entire life.

"Steam" by  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The gaming client Steam has created a platform for game developers of all sizes, and many indie titles have found massive success thanks solely to Steam. Now many of those developers port their games to iOS and Android, opening up a new market of users to an already well-established game. This has immensely helped bridge any gap between mobiles and PCs when it comes to indie games.

Mobile gaming is now more legitimate than ever. With more power, more revenue, and more games, it is no surprise it has grown so much in the past few years. However, despite its growth, PC gaming is still isn’t going anywhere. Once modular smartphone and tablets enter the market, that’s when the competition between mobile and PC gaming will really heat up and we will finally be able to see who reigns supreme.