If you believe the statistics, you may think that the question has already been answered. With more than two billion mobile gamers in the world, it’s possible to argue that the mobile industry has exceeded traditional markets. The fact that mobile made £75 billion compared to PCs and consoles £66 billion is another reason to assume the battle has been won.
However, the war continues to wage because gaming is about more than which platform a player prefers. It also revolves around accessibility, affordability, gameplay, and several other factors. From that perspective, it’s a lot harder to pick a winner.
Pros of Mobile Make It Possible
Let’s be real – the mobile gaming sector is making a move that PC and console operators haven’t experienced before. For example, the fact that the likes of Sony and Microsoft are changing their strategies to incorporate mobile features is very telling. No one would have predicted the latest Xbox Series X could be streamed to a smartphone or tablet five years ago.
So, what makes the mobile industry so powerful that it’s forcing the global market to evolve? Part of the answer lies in the accessibility of phones and tablets compared to PCs and consoles. Firstly, the penetration of the product is unrivalled. Not only do UK households have a single mobile, but 45% have access to two. More households have three or four (19% and 19%) than one (15%), highlighting how common they are today. Twinned with this is the connection they offer. Aside from Wi-Fi, which is readily available in public areas, smartphones use 4G and 5G networks to sync to the internet, and they are reaching wider communities. For instance, the second quarter of 2021 saw an increasing number of UK residents accessing 5G networks, with Three’s service providing a median 5G download speed of 231.07Mbps.
With more people playing mobile games online, the demand has skyrocketed, and it’s no surprise providers are capitalising by constantly releasing influxes of games to ensure customers remain engaged. Online casinos do this better than any of their peers because, on top of libraries that contain thousands of slots and table games, they create new slots such as Rich Wilde and the Wandering City to cement the sector’s position. As a result, mobile games account for nearly 60% of a global market that’s valued at $135 billion. In that sense, mobile gaming could easily challenge console gaming for the crown.
Consoles Are Fighting Back
Don’t let the above convince you that consoles are obsolete. They aren’t going anywhere as around 20 million customers bought Sony’s and Microsoft’s latest next-gen releases. The PS5 has shipped 13.4 million consoles worldwide, whereas the Xbox Series X and S combined recorded sales of seven million. Of course, that’s without factoring in the second-biggest seller of consoles – Nintendo. Since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has sold 91 million units globally.
These numbers prove that the demand for the sector is still very high, even if mobile operators are making a play for the throne. One reason for this is the affordability factor. Do you assume that smartphones are cheaper than consoles? Well, that isn’t the case, not if you compare them like for like. For example, the average price for the most popular handsets is £1,101, which is £500 more than a PS5 or Series X. The Series S is £300. Another factor is the power of the software that consoles use. Smartphones are improving in this regard, yet they can’t compete with custom 825GB storage, 256-bit memory interface, and 448GB memory bandwidth. Thanks to these specifications, the depth of the storylines on consoles is much greater than most mobile games. Just compare Red Dead Redemption’s map to Angry Birds or the Candy Crush Saga, for example.
Consoles have an aura of exclusivity, too. Due to exclusive game releases, they can leverage high-quality titles that other platforms can’t, such as Grand Theft Auto V, which has sold 140 million-plus units in less than a decade. Minecraft has exceeded 200 million sales. And although there may be mobile versions, the reviews indicate they struggle to compete with the traditional editions as they don’t have Java.
Mobile games may one day be more popular than console games. However, despite the current demand, consoles have components that enable the operators to sell hundreds of millions of units worldwide. Therefore, the war between the two could intensify as both try to develop the next feature that gives them the edge.