(see update August 30, 2013 below)
There is an interesting trend in video games and gaming if you pay close attention. The traditional consoles are remaining for now, albeit at a steep price point. The reason the future of gaming is switching is largely to do with the increased use of mobile devices and the cheap prices of mobile games for Android and Apple iOS. The is a trend and don’t mistake what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting today is the day that cheap mobile games have taken over the market.
There is a new device or video game category dubbed “micro console”. That is for now, a small Android based set top box that comes with a gamepad. It’s a very small and compact console that has a variety of inputs and outputs that not only plays Android games, but it makes your television a smart tv. Internet connected in other words. I’ve mentioned previously that Google should release their own micro gaming console. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple with a gaming focused set top box or television integration. Just to give you some idea, a micro console is small enough that you could hold it in your palm. You might have heard of Ouya or GameStick which are also Android micro gaming consoles.
Recently, Apple has made a significant improvement in their new iOS 7 version so that 3rd party game controllers can more easily be written into games. Essentially it means that a greater variety of gamepad and controllers will be able to work with a wider variety of iOS games. In fact we’ve already seen a leaked image of an apparent gamepad that is being made by Logitech for the iPhone 5 and iPod devices. The move by Apple says that they can see a future where mobile gaming becomes the mainstream. Building better gamepad support is a clear indicator. That particular leaked image of the gamepad for iPhone is essentially a shell that allows you to dock the phone into the gamepad. Rumors also suggest that these types of gamepad docks will provide an additional battery for your iPhone or iPod. Because these are being made for the iPhone, be assured that Android will be seeing a big increase in available gamepad docks similar to what we’re seeing leaked so far. Mobile devices are a massive growth market and will continue moving forward. The fact that you can dock your smartphone into a gamepad means you’re transforming your device into a portable gaming rig. We know from the past, and Nintendo has proven that the Game Boy and portable gaming market is huge. Today’s smartphones are far more powerful and as a result, the gaming experience will be improving on a monthly basis.
When it comes to technology, price point plays a huge role in adoption of a device or new product category. The cheaper a device, the more people will buy. Sounds obvious, but it’s key to video games that are made for Android or Apple iOS. A game developer can look at selling fewer copies of a game which is made for a gaming console like XB1 or PS4, or they can look at selling a lot of copies of a game that is on Android and Apple iOS. Making a game for XB1 and PS4 is becoming a big investment of resources and thus it becomes high risk. If you invest a lot more money to create a game, it needs to sell well in order to make money. The more of a gamble, the less participants out there will to take that risk and develop games. The development for mobile games is far less risky and requires far less cash. Also it’s important not to forget the fact that the mobile gaming market is continuing to eat away at the traditional console market. So another added risk on these big investment games is that the available market to buy that game is continuing to shrink. It’s just a given at this point that mobile gaming on Android and Apple iOS is in growth mode, and the console gaming market is stable for now or is at the point of decreasing. The restrictive Xbox One used game policies and the overall high price point on games for the PS4 and XB1 won’t help over the next few years. It’s going to take a few big game, big investment flops before some game developers start to get real nervous before taking the plunge on a PS4 or Xbox One game.
So aside from the price advantage to Android games and Apple iOS games, there is the advantage of cross device gaming. In other words, tablets vs. smartphones vs. micro console gamers all playing the same game against each other at the same time. User base plays a big role in online multiplayer. The more the merrier as they say! Google made a few major announcements about Android OS improvements in terms of latency and delay in online multiplayer games. It’s only getting better and Google has put emphasis on improving the gaming experience on Android. So consider that you could buy an Android game for $10 or less and be able to play it on your smartphone, tablet or television, that’s a pretty good deal I’d say.
Update August 30, 2013: Still not a believe in what Android gaming can bring to the console market? Amazon is rumored to be released an Android based gaming console / set top box, possible as early as this Black Friday 2013. Consider the possible price point and the fact that it will have its own dedicated controller if rumors turn out to be true. As shown in the past, cheap price points play a big role in consumer purchases. Casual gamers (the Android gamers as it were) is a vastly greater number than the “hardcore” gamer that must own either Xbox, PlayStation or Wii consoles. Likely Amazon’s game console will double as a smart tv which will expand the reach and market in comparison to the next generation gaming consoles. Yes the next generation gaming consoles will have smart tv elevements, but people associated them with gaming and not smart tv. (see source article)
Update July 28, 2013: News coming out that the Mad Catz Mojo android gaming console will be available this coming fall. It will have access to the Google Play store, Nvidia store and Amazon store. Features include: no less than 16GB internal storage, microSD memory card expansion, USB and HDMI connections, stream video in 1080p resolution, Tegra 4 processor, and 2GB of RAM. What’s also impressive is that you will be able to attach whatever mouse, controller, headset and accessory that you want. That means if you want to use an Xbox or PlayStation controller, it seems possible. (see source article)