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Study finds mobile gaming on the rise among developers, interest in consoles waning

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Mobile platforms running iOS and Android are increasingly popular among North American game developers, according to a new study, while traditional consoles and their portable counterparts are seeing less interest.

Games
Mobile OS games, such as the one on the left, are drawing interest from developers, even as traditional consoles, seen on the right, struggle.


For its GDC 2013 State of the Industry survey, the Game Developers Conference, polled more than 2,500 North American Developers who attended GDC 2012 or plan to attend GDC 2013. Respondents' answers painted a picture of game industry in flux.

Smartphones and tablets were the most popular development platform among respondents, with 55 percent of them saying they were developing their current games for such devices. Fifty-eight percent of developers said they plan to release their next games on mobile devices.

PCs and Macs were the next strongest platforms, with 34.6 percent of developers having just released a game for PC/Mac, 48 percent developing current games for the platform, and 49 percent planning their next games for the platform.

Traditional consoles fared relatively poorly in the survey, with Nintendo faring the worst. Among respondents, 13.2 percent were currently developing for Microsoft's Xbox 360, while 14 percent were targeting the platform for their next game. For Sony's PlayStation 3, 13 percent were releasing their current game on it, with 12.4 percent targeting it for their next game. Eleven percent of respondents said they were targeting both Xbox and PlayStation. Nintendo's Wii U had only 4.6 percent of developers currently working on a game, with 6.4 percent saying their next game would come to Nintendo's new console.

The portable handheld development picture was even less encouraging, according to GDC. Two percent of respondents had made their last game for Sony's struggling PS Vita portable, while 4.2 percent were currently working on a game for it, and just over five percent planned their next game for the platform. Nintendo's 3DS had only two percent of respondents working on games for it, with 2.8 percent planning to release their next games on the portable console.

Developers indicated strong interest in tablets and smartphones, as well as PC-based TV consoles. Next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft also drew interest, but developers have yet to warm to Nintendo's Wii U.

While they may be indicative of the state of the wider game development industry, it is difficult to extrapolate GDC's numbers to a broader statement on the game industry on the whole. Fifty-three percent of respondents identified themselves as "indie developers," with 46 percent of respondents working in companies of 10 people or fewer.

Those numbers may skew the results in favor or mobile devices, which typically require much less in the way of resources and funding to develop. Typical titles on consoles require much more in the way of funding and labor than do the casual gamer-oriented titles seen on smartphones and tablets. The small company/small screen skew was apparent also in the studies findings on funding, with 35 percent of respondents indicating they were financing their games from personal funds, while only 10 percent were primarily publisher-funded.
post #2 of 30

Mobile games are just getting better and better!

 

I download Real Racing 3 last night, it just came out for the US. It's the best one so far, and it's also freemium. 16 GB iPad owners beware, it's a huge game. On one of my iPads, it's taking up 1.8 GB of space. I only have one other app installed that's bigger than it.

post #3 of 30
Mobile gaming will never replace consoles for me.
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Mobile gaming will never replace consoles for me.

 

Maybe not, but it is and it will for many others.

 

Add bluetooth controler support for the iPad, and with the next generation of mobile chips, consoles are finished. The addressable market of iOS devices is far superior to that of consoles, and is more attractive. 

post #5 of 30
I can't even remember the last time I turned on my PlayStation 3.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Mobile gaming will never replace consoles for me.

they will easily replace that $60 per game price tag for me

 

and don't talk about the game quality, most of the budget of a game is on marketing

post #7 of 30
State of the industry, according to the developers who attend GDC, anyway. I bet if you asked these exact same question to E3 attendees, you'd get completely different results.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian92610 View Post

State of the industry, according to the developers who attend GDC, anyway. I bet if you asked these exact same question to E3 attendees, you'd get completely different results.

You do realize that GDC is a developers conference? 15000 people who are involved with the creation of games attend. E3 has a different audience.

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanl View Post

You do realize that GDC is a developers conference? 15000 people who are involved with the creation of games attend. E3 has a different audience.

Yes, I do realize that. I'm just saying that this isn't necessarily indicative of the entire industry. Are more and more game developers in the entire industry "indie" or are more and more developers that attend GDC "indie"? That was my point. 

post #10 of 30
What amazes me about this is that companies like Nintendo still refuse to port games to mobile devices on principle. If they would do it with the older 2d titles they might find that they could generate new audiences for their stuff. Even for their console only titles

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #11 of 30
Fascinating article.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanl View Post

You do realize that GDC is a developers conference? 15000 people who are involved with the creation of games attend. E3 has a different audience.

Just about anyone can get the iOS SDK and become a 'game developer'. Do you know that there are already more games on iOS then games on ALL (and I do mean all, starting with Atari) consoles combined? Any games made now will just be another needle in the haystack.
Edited by dasanman69 - 2/28/13 at 3:18pm
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

What amazes me about this is that companies like Nintendo still refuse to port games to mobile devices on principle. If they would do it with the older 2d titles they might find that they could generate new audiences for their stuff. Even for their console only titles

 

Why do they need to port titles to a terrible gaming platform when game releases still generates hundreds of millions in revenue??? Just one 3DS title like Pokemon brings in more revenue than EA does ALL YEAR from its entire mobile division (they also own Angry Birds in case you dont remember). No single developer on iOS makes more money on mobile gaming than Nintendo does. 

 

With that said the Nintendo experience is just like the Apple experience, its software is married to the hardware and its not going to change...ever. 

 

As for this story i find it to be humorous, you mean to tell me a bunch of indie devs are publishing on the cheapest platforms they can?!!! I wonder if people developing a AAA console game can just drop what their doing and go to GDC when they have deadlines and an actual game to make?

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

PCs and Macs were the next strongest platforms, with 34.6 percent of developers having just released a game for PC/Mac,

 

I thought that PC gaming was dead? 1tongue.gif

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post

I can't even remember the last time I turned on my PlayStation 3.

I can't even remember the last time I played "games" on my phone.

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Maybe not, but it is and it will for many others.

Add bluetooth controler support for the iPad, and with the next generation of mobile chips, consoles are finished. The addressable market of iOS devices is far superior to that of consoles, and is more attractive. 

I don't think so. People who do play only mobile games are/were not target audience for console/PC games in a first place.

IMHO, mobile games are providing some gaming experience for people not interested in complex games. THey are not replacing gaming for people who do like complex console/PC games. I know number of individuals playing only mobile games on occasion, but none of them was PC/console gamer. Likewise, I don't know a person who moved from PC/console to mobile. I know people who lost interest in gaming and gave up on games, but that is natural process - nothing to do with mobiles; it was happening since '80, when I got into games - well before smartphones and tablets emerged.

What do you mean by " The addressable market of iOS devices is far superior to that of consoles, and is more attractive"? That developers would rather develop quick and cheap $5 games for mobiles than complex multi-million-budget $60 games for PC and consoles? Only those who are not good enough to strive in that market. How many premium developers do you know that have dropped PC/console and refocused on mobiles, anyway?
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricardo Dawkins View Post

I can't even remember the last time I played "games" on my phone.

Exactly.  I bet it has been at least six months for me.  

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

I thought that PC gaming was dead? 1tongue.gif

It is quite strong opinion among gaming "society" that PC gaming is going through nice renaissance. I'm not completely sold (though I hope they are right) - I think this effect is more due to current console gen getting really old and console gamers holding back for next gen, while PCs improve every year, and performance gap is moving some people back from consoles to PC. But release of next-gen consoles will spike interest in consoles again... for a few years... and as next gen starts showing age, tide will move again toward PCs.

Not related to your post but related to topic - I had a giggle about how author of this article smartly merged PC and Mac for a solid total standing. Reminds me of old Serbian saying a friend from Serbia told me once: "Us and Russians, 300 millions!" Serbia itself, btw, has less than 10 millions, much as I know. 1wink.gif
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

they will easily replace that $60 per game price tag for me

and don't talk about the game quality, most of the budget of a game is on marketing

Because games like Halo and Gran Turismo are so much nicer when you can get them for $0.99, right? /s

And do talk about game quality. Have you really played any big PC or console games in the last 5 years or so? Your statement tells me you didn't, not really.
post #20 of 30
Where's the source for this "study?" I don't see it attributed anywhere, but I though AI was better than that. Am I missing something?
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

 

Maybe not, but it is and it will for many others.

 

Add bluetooth controler support for the iPad, and with the next generation of mobile chips, consoles are finished. The addressable market of iOS devices is far superior to that of consoles, and is more attractive. 

No, playing in your living room on a console or pc will never die, just like watching a movie on a great HDTV is not going to be replaced by watching a movie on an iPad.

post #22 of 30

 

Consoles have nothing to fear from tablets or phones.

post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikon133 
It is quite strong opinion among gaming "society" that PC gaming is going through nice renaissance. I'm not completely sold (though I hope they are right) - I think this effect is more due to current console gen getting really old and console gamers holding back for next gen, while PCs improve every year, and performance gap is moving some people back from consoles to PC. But release of next-gen consoles will spike interest in consoles again... for a few years... and as next gen starts showing age, tide will move again toward PCs.

The really interesting thing happening now is the new high-end consoles are using x86 PC hardware. This potentially means they wouldn't even have to recompile the games but they probably would optimize them differently. Suffice to say, PC development no longer requires a lot of extra effort to port over. If Haswell is going to have decent enough GPU power, the minimum performance bar will be around the 640M:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-640M.71579.0.html

That can play Battlefield 3 on high quality. I figured PC gaming would gradually fade out as developers just turned games to console exclusives but the PC audience is huge and being able to easily do simultaneous releases will be such a big help to developers. It might even make it easier to port straight to the Mac although there's still the DirectX/OpenGL issue. If they all do OpenGL 4 and Apple gets a move on with support for it, they'll have feature parity with DX11.

The appeal with mobile platforms, especially with the indie developers is that there's low expectations for quality, the publishing costs are low and the audience is bigger than all of the consoles combined. The top-tier developers aren't showing enough interest in it yet. I don't think it has to be a case of one or the other, they both have a place in the gaming world and there will be more convergence as time goes on. They'll be able to do simultaneous AAA releases to mobile eventually.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post

I can't even remember the last time I turned on my PlayStation 3.

Pfft

post #25 of 30
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

Consoles have nothing to fear from tablets or phones.

 

I don't care if the skin has subsurface scattering and a porous material algorithm applied to it when the performance is wooden and the writing is transparent.

 

Some of the best games have zero graphics at all. If you think that's the deciding factor in purchasing, why isn't Terragen a multi-billion dollar company? 

post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I don't care if the skin has subsurface scattering and a porous material algorithm applied to it when the performance is wooden and the writing is transparent.

 

Some of the best games have zero graphics at all. If you think that's the deciding factor in purchasing, why isn't Terragen a multi-billion dollar company? 

 

Well of course it's a mix of both. If it weren't, we would still be playing on Amiga, but we are not.

One of the most acclaimed games this year, and one of the most original ever, Journey,  is simple in design but still needs a lot of tech to achieve that 'simple' look.

 

 

Beyond : Two Souls, is an upcoming game that sports extremely impressive motion capture acting, including by Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

 

 

And what about The Last Of Us?

 

 

It will take several years for tablets and phones to reach that level of graphics, and even then, games of that scope and quality are very expensive and can't possibly be sold at a few dollars. And even if, no reasonable person would play those on any other support than a good big screen.

post #27 of 30
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post
Well of course it's a mix of both. If it weren't, we would still be playing on Amiga, but we are not.

One of the most acclaimed games this year, and one of the most original ever, Journey,  is simple in design but still needs a lot of tech to achieve that 'simple' look.

 

Beyond : Two Souls, is an upcoming game that sports extremely impressive motion capture acting, including by Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

 

And what about The Last Of Us?

 

It will take several years for tablets and phones to reach that level of graphics, and even then, games of that scope and quality are very expensive and can't possibly be sold at a few dollars. And even if, no reasonable person would play those on any other support than a good big screen.

 

You're still talking about graphics. There's one sentence in there where you sort of partially kind of halfway accept that the story and gameplay are part of at least halfway what make a game great. I guess that's a start, but they're roughly 90% of what makes a game worth playing. 

post #28 of 30
When I talked about motion capture that was what I was talking about. Facial motion capture to be precise. Just a look at the trailer shows a level of emotion and realistic characters never attained in games anywhere. And I agree emotion is primordial for some kind of games. You talked about performance and writing. The problem is that performance can't be transcribed without a lot of tech and power. I still have to see a tablet game that arrives to the level of PS1 games like Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy. Writing, on the other hand, isn't related to tech, but oddly, even in that department iOS games lack. The first game that comes to my mind is Superbrothers sorcery (or whatever the name). It has great writing and is one of the best games of the past years, whatever the support. But that's one of the very few exceptions in a catalog of games that are mostly puzzles (in videogame terms). That's not a bad thing per se. I loved a lot of them, but this genre for me is uncapable of delivering the same level of immersion as 'bigger' games. Well, they mostly don't deliver any immersion at all. One of my favorite games ever is Osmos on iOS, though it was initially developed for Steam. The music is fantastic.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX 
Well of course it's a mix of both. If it weren't, we would still be playing on Amiga, but we are not.
One of the most acclaimed games this year, and one of the most original ever, Journey,  is simple in design but still needs a lot of tech to achieve that 'simple' look.

It will take several years for tablets and phones to reach that level of graphics, and even then, games of that scope and quality are very expensive and can't possibly be sold at a few dollars. And even if, no reasonable person would play those on any other support than a good big screen.

I'd say it has to be a mix of both too and it goes beyond visual appearance. There are AI and physics simulations that improve the immersion in a game and there is the scale of an environment - it depends on the type of game of course. A good book can be more immersive than a big budget console game but poor quality game titles stand out a mile and mobile platforms have far too many of them. Great games can be made with current mobile resources though. Vice City is one example, which came out for mobile a couple of months ago:



A few titles are quite laughable like Splinter Cell:



Once you get into the game itself, it's just terrible even compared to PS2 equivalents:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UjSwIo6OIXw#t=185s

The game prices probably will have to rise to justify dedicating more development effort to them and time will tell if that happens. In terms of processing power, the next mobile chips will allow PS3/360 console quality and at the very least there can be more ports of older AAA games.

One very real problem for developers is visibility in the store. With console titles, they would be 1 out of maybe 200-400 titles. When it's 1 out of 500,000 titles, you could end up not being noticed at all without a significant marketing budget. I really wish they'd have an option to hide the low utility apps - they can check the binary sizes. Apps that turn the LED on are useful when they are needed but they clutter up the place otherwise. Just a display mode that lets me see apps that developers have spent more than 5 minutes making.
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

You're still talking about graphics. There's one sentence in there where you sort of partially kind of halfway accept that the story and gameplay are part of at least halfway what make a game great. I guess that's a start, but they're roughly 90% of what makes a game worth playing. 

 

It depends on the type of game you're talking about. If you're talking about Madden or COD/Battlefield, the focus is on pushing the graphics envelope and multi-player while story is an afterthought. The graphics help push the story in ways never before, when you see characters react like a normal person, see that human emotion or just a lush landscape that makes the world your in more believable, it enhances the game like never before. 

 

With that said some of the best games that stand as timeless were focused on delivering a great story in the 16bit days, but the graphics can make or break a game nowadays unlike the old days where almost every game looked similar with the story setting them apart.

 

Nothing i've really played on iOS has a great story unless it was a DS port or remake of something from another console. It's not to say that it can't be done but developers aren't even attempting to push that envelope of smartphone gaming, its about super polished graphics on top of a monotonous game with microtransactions left and right, or port their old games and get people to buy them or make a half ass game with the name of their console counterpart (EA mainly) to get people to just buy it. 

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