Following my recent blog on the future of gaming retail in light of the unfortunate collapse of GAME stores, I wanted to give my take on the future of the gaming industry itself. What lies ahead for avid and social gamers? I believe the answer is mobile.
By mobile gaming, I’m not just talking about portable handheld consoles such as the recently released PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS. While the quality of such devices makes its early Gameboy predecessors look nothing short of prehistoric, they are only paving the way for dedicated mobile producers.
Smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly versatile devices and the explosion of video traffic flying around mobile networks has urged operators and service providers to seek new ways of improving data services. This leads the door wide open for games developers to infiltrate mobile platforms with their own content and social networks.
Mobile game invasion
The days of being chained to a games console connected to a television monitor for hours on end may diminish sooner than we hoped they would. One need only look at the phenomenon that is Angry Birds to see where the future of gaming lies. At first, when I saw that F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen would don a helmet in the style of an Angry Bird, I admittedly thought it was a joke gone too far.
Moreover, it’s a seriously big deal. Angry Birds Space, launched this week, reached a staggering ten million downloads in just three days. As a tech PR agency, we can already see it happening.
Companies such as Train2Game (an EML Wildfire client) are providing blended learning courses for people aiming to work in the videogames industry. This will include effectively training students to design games for iOS to be showcased at the Gadget Show live and analysed by industry experts.
The scope for growth is massive and gaming giants such as Zynga and Electronic Arts are already on the case. Last year, EA acquired PopCap, the developers of Plants vs. Zombies. While PvZ is a casual game designed with simplicity in mind, it burst onto the scene in 2009 and transcended PCs and mobile devices. PvZ has not only infiltrated the portable console space, it is also available to play as a Facebook application, opening the doors to a whole new level of social gaming.
Social gaming in motion
Even an establishment with the tradition of the Royal Opera House has jumped onto the mobile video games bandwagon in an attempt to engage youthful interest. The power of gaming as a social network is indeed an exciting space. Gaming is being used increasingly as a means for online users to make likeminded friends, score dates and even land jobs.
The social media and mobile frenzies are inextricably linked, and gaming is becoming a major player in both sectors. Playing games on smartphones is no longer chasing food around a screen with a pixelated snake. The graphical interfaces and power of mobile gaming have improved dramatically. With social networking becoming common place on gaming platforms, it is likely that mobile gamers will soon demand access to gaming networks as adamantly as they do their Facebook and Twitter apps.
One of the overriding themes of social gaming as a concept is to share gaming experiences with friends and fellow gamers online. As gaming networks become increasingly social and mobile, we come to a juncture where the new challenge is enabling gamers to share these experiences from anywhere using just their mobile device.