Mobile phone gaming, or mobile gaming has come a long way since games such as Tetris (1994) and Snake (1997), but has it come far enough to start challenging gaming consoles?
Console gaming has had many generations, upgrades and improvement over the years, starting from the Magnavox Odyssey and Atari Pong, with their extremely primitive specs, ranging up to the state-of-the-art Xbox ones and PS4s to name a few. But is it about to be knocked off its throne?
In modern society, everyone has a phone, and the mass majority of those are high-end smart phones. Most of these phones are capable of downloading apps from a market and playing them, this includes games. So why are we not seeing the latest Call of Dutys and other major titles being released on Google Play Store, and the App Store? Granted mobile gaming has its own heavy weights, such as Angry Birds (2009) and Clash of Clans (2012) but I think there is a unanimous agreement that these games are not as technically challenging, or graphically impressive as other console games such as far cry 4 (2014) and Skyrim (2011). In this article, I will be exploring as to why these console games aren’t having a somewhat toned down mobile release at the same time.
The answer is certainly not to do with hardware. Let’s take, for example, the new Samsung S6. It sports a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & a Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 as its CPUs, with 3 GB of RAM. Now I’m going to compare this to the specs of the Xbox 360, a console that can handle games such as Skyrim, Battlefield and other major titles at 30 FPS. It has a 3.2GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon, and 4 GB of RAM. I appreciate that the console does have the better specs, but not by much, and future generations of mobiles can easily surpass these specs. However overheating is an issue in this topic, as phones do not have a heat sink that can even begin to compete with the much more spacious consoles, and I feel that mobiles at load capacity for extended periods of time could either overheat the CPU, or worse burn it out. This is due to the extremely limited space inside a mobile phone case.
In terms of portability, it really isn’t a competition, with the mobile phone taking it by a landslide. Price is another factor, with the Xbox 360 retailing on release in June of 2010 at $199.99 (USD), whereas the S6 was £559.99. Obviously the phone loses out on that comparison, however, I would argue that the phone doesn’t need any peripherals, unlike the Xbox. An Xbox would require either a monitor, with a good set of speakers, and the appropriate cables, or a TV, which could cost more overall, all this with optional 3rd party headsets, and additional controllers maybe required too. Either way, a good £200-£500 maybe required to play on the Xbox, however the phone only requires a charger, of which is included in the initial cost anyway. Also, I would argue that most people will pay for a mobile phone now, anyway, as they are so necessary, regardless the price, and not even necessarily for gaming.
An issue I personally have found with mobile gaming is that the screen is almost too small, especially when considering that controls are cramped on, and fingers then get in the way of the already small screen on a phone. This is an issue that would genuinely put me off playing games on a phone, even though most games place the controls as far in the corners to negate this issue, for example Minecraft: Pocket edition and Black Ops Zombies, however it is still very imposing on a person’s performance in game. However advances have been made on this, with the introduction of the MOGA Mobile Gaming System, which gives the gamer a mount for the phone, and provides a real handheld controller, much like the Xbox one controller that can be used in game, that connects via Bluetooth. Not only does this move the users fingers from the screen, and stops their view from being blocked, but also stops warmth for their hands heating up the phone, helping reduce chances of the CPU overheating. I think if the company could bring this product to the masses, and maybe a few top games that could really benefit from this get released, then this could be the ultimate mobile gaming peripheral.
Ultimately, to me, the main issue that brings down mobile gaming is time. The Apple App Store was released in 2008, and the Google Play Store only being released in 2012, developers have simply not had enough time to truly develop great games, with exceptional logic and graphics yet. This is compared to the release of the PS1, the first instalment of the PlayStation series, released in 1994. The PlayStation 4 has arguably the best games, with the best graphics of any console. Developers have started developing, and have being practising developing games for the PS4 since 1994, 14 years earlier than anyone developing games for phones. I think that this really shows, as the games clearly are years ahead of mobile gaming.
Overall, I think that we, as consumers, need to give the developers of both the games, and phones, enough time to perfect what they are doing. I personally don’t think we are going to see games that are similar to what we play on our consoles any time soon. For that matter, I don’t think we will ever be playing the same calibre of games on both console, and mobile. This is due to the fact that games file sizes are constantly growing. For example, Call of Duty 4 (2007) was 11 GB. Go 8 years into the future, and Call of Duty Advanced Warfare has a file size of 42.6 GB