Mobile Gaming – A Corporate Curse or Consumer Gift?

Since the iPhone was launched and the App store was released upon the world, we’ve seen thousands upon thousands of new apps and games flood the market from creative individuals and developers. This made mobile gaming a true platform to be enjoyed by literally everyone with access to a Smartphone, iPod touch or other compatible device. Specifically I’m talking mobiles/Smartphones/Tablets and not PS Vita or Nintendo DS/3DS.

From the age old classic of ‘Snake’ a decade or so ago in black and white, where having any game on your phone was a novelty in even the most basic of forms, to now almost PlayStation 2 level graphical quality with games such as N.O.V.A or Real Racing series by EA – mobile gaming has come a very long way indeed. Making calls and shooting zombies all on the same device has never been so rewarding or time consuming. From a good business standpoint it’s opened up the gaming market to the widest audience possible – a recent report found that 79% of 18-44 year olds have their Smartphones near them 22 hours a day. Giving consumers something fun to do while they are waiting or commuting whilst being engaged with a brand/mobile advertising is the best of both worlds one may think, but can this be destructive?

Games come in many varieties. Free, paid for or a disconcerting mixture called ‘Freemium’. Free games are generally supported by advertising (as are Freemium) whereas paid games generally speaking contain few or no advertisements. The paid or free games I take no issue with. Freemium however are cleverly disguised as ‘Free’ but soon either halt your game progress or constantly bombard you with slightly misleading options which make you unsure whether you have to pay or not. The aim is to get you so hooked with an addictive business model that you feel enamoured to spend money to continue. Granted, the issues arising from this are aimed at the younger audiences entering their Apple id and not realising there is a charge yet it’s an unsavoury practice. It’s much like a game demo but a very restrictive one that is rarely representative of a decent gaming experience. As a result this has caused untold grief for many people mistakenly making payments which were unclear and generally creating a bad taste in consumer’s mouth.

There is a fear in my mind that a Smartphone culture has made us all both less aware of what is going on around us, but also turning our brains on autopilot to an extent. On the train this morning out of 6 seats (split into 2 sets of 3 facing each other) every single person was deep into their Smartphone swiping and tapping. We’re in a digital age so naturally assume this to be pretty normal and there is almost a stigma attached to you if you don’t have a Smartphone, however I can’t help feeling a little jaded that most would spend all day with screens in offices and the natural instinct is to look at another screen on the way home. People miss train stops, lose track of time or even have been close to having an accident walking across the road due to playing on their Smartphone. Make no mistake, Smartphones will only get more advanced and more time sappingly engaging addictive games will arrive

Largely due to the complexity of mobile games we can now tweet, share and socially integrate ourselves with our digital counterparts. Perhaps cynically it’s a way to boost brands’ digital footprint under the guise of competing with your friends for a high score. In previous times the computer opponent was the only top score that mattered and now you’re up against the world – a daunting task if ever there was one, but empowering nonetheless.

Shady DLC practices and social monitoring aside, mobile gaming will simply continue to drain both time and money from many consumers but ultimately levitating any notion of boredom that ever existed when your train breaks down, your girlfriend is late or you’ve had that dodgy Indian curry and are ‘otherwise engaged’.

The Age of Free Online Gaming

The last decade has been reason enough for us to label it as the age of free online gaming and now even though the medium is gradually shifting onto the cellular medium, the drive remains. People are still resorting to playing online free games across various websites including social media platforms. Do you hear of people shop hopping to malls and bazaars in search of games and devices anymore? They only need to plug in to the internet and play flash games in 2D, 3D, 4D or download gaming software directly off the net. Corporate biggies like Microsoft, Sony, etc acknowledge the growing popularity of the online gaming culture and hence inundate the market with advanced gaming consoles and games. No doubt, there’s a lot of market scope for the same but then again there is a larger section of gamers who’d rather not invest so much in branded gaming software. The smarter alternative here is to bank on online free games which also let you compete with friends.

The perks of online free games are just too many. Let alone the fact that they are absolutely free, the other benefits of online games includes the thrill of playing with your pals, colleagues, etc. This takes interactive gaming to another level of excitement. Most online free games are designed simplistically so as to fit into the busy schedules of urban people. So that saves you a lot of time that is otherwise lost when indulging in elaborate software gaming. It could be a brain teasing sudoku or the good old Farmville, variety is a given. You will never be tired or bored of monotony. Another matter of convenience is you can access these online free games from not just your PC, but other devices like mobiles and tablets too. That gives you flexibility of usage. You’re stranded in traffic, seems like an open road is a good half hour away, what do you do? Pull out your mobile and begin!

Along with every perk comes a wave of negativity. Free downloadable games have been criticized for being way too addictive. Owing to the ease and accessibility of these free games, people tend to devote long hours of their days to online gaming thus sabotaging their daily productivity. However many of the names are designed to probe a child’s thinking prowess and consequently sharpen their gray cells. There is an entire separate genre of online free games for kids of all age groups. According to studies conducted such games help develop a child’s concentration level, analytic and logical reasoning abilities.

Through the ages, kids have never really been ardent fan of mathematics as a subject. Online free games involving use of mathematics is an all new way of approaching the subject. Socially too, such games have a lot to offer. Aside from playing these free games with friends you also get to interact with people across the world. By the looks of thing the coming generation has a lot to watch out for.

Mobile Gaming Explodes!

The online gaming industry is nothing new. Players have been enjoying some of the most popular and best games of all time on the internet and if you are one of the millions of players of Everquest or World of Warcraft, then you know exactly what I am talking about. However, the next wave of online games are not on the PC, PlayStation or even the Xbox 360, they are on your mobile phone. Mobile gaming is now becoming even more popular than console gaming. This is no surprise to those who own a smart phone that offers a big screen with touch sensitive surface. These mobile phones are the perfect platform for game developers who want to take advantage of these new devices and offer gamers a more immersive experience than ever before.

If you want to see what the latest and greatest games are for your device you can usually just a take a look in the app store for your device. The Android App Store and the Apple App Store are two of the largest in the industry and they have hundreds if not thousands of professional quality games available to the owners of these devices. The best part is that many of these games are totally free to download and play. In the past game developers have tried to make their fortune off of the sales of their games. However, there is a new monetization method being used. Now the games are free, but if you want to get a head start on other players there are in game upgrades or funny money that you can purchase to give yourself the upper hand in a game. This is proving to be a very profitable method and has been well accepted by the player community.

Mobile gaming will only become more popular and continue to grow as the mobile devices players are using to access these games continue to get faster and offer better quality screens. The mobile phone market is growing at a rate that the sales for mobile devices will pass those of PC’s and consoles pretty soon. This is one reason that the companies with huge development teams are already shifting gears to mobile game development. Angry Birds is one of the most popular games of all times on mobile devices and its simplicity is one reason. However, there are real time first person shooters and other crazy cool mobile games available. The developers that will become most successful in this space, will find new ways to make player interaction even more realistic and fun!