Angry Birds is an excellent example of a portable game that does everything right. Rovio Mobile has parlayed a simple puzzler that pits birds and pigs in eternal battle into a worldwide phenomena of over 10 million downloads. It seems that everybody is addicted flinging birds across fields as the game is available (or will be available) across the Apple iOS for both iPhone and iPad, the Google Android OS and Windows Phone 7. The game is synonymous with touch-screen gaming and is to today’s children as Pokemon was to children of the ’90s. The game has gotten the attention of not only its millions of fans, but people at the top of the gaming industry like Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime who called the game “under-priced.”
So when Rovio executive Peter Vesterbacka declares that console games are dying, it might ruffle a few feathers.
Granted, he is at the helm of a company that is dominating the digital sales for mobile platforms, but that hardly means that console gaming is going the way of the dinosaur. Gaming, on the home console in particular, has grown dramatically over the past decade and has managed to establish itself as a viable entertainment alternative to television, film and music.
Rovio has since back pedaled on the statement claiming that Vesterbacka was referring to digital distribution as the new standard for gaming. While it is easy to understand that digital distribution will be the new standard for which purchases are made thanks to strong performances by applications like Steam, iTunes and even the new OnLive service, I think that Vesterbacka is truly sitting atop his Scrooge McDuck pile of 99 cent downloads and reveling in the short success Angry Birds has garnered.
There is some truth to be said about the strength of gaming on mobile phones, especially given the growing standard of touch-based smartphones.
But here’s the truth. Console games are not in any danger of dying. While the industry is a costly endeavor and it seems that only AAA development studios supported by big name publishers are the only ones who consistently create hits, there is a growing support for indie developers and smaller companies like Atlus are still publishing solid titles.
It wasn’t too long ago that the rise of console gaming brought on the so called demise of PC gaming. The PC gaming market has shrunk, but it still manages to have a foothold on markets the console can’t touch like MMORPGs, Real Time Strategy and many still swear by the mouse and keyboard for FPS games. Mobile phone gaming fills a need for a simple game while you’re on the go. But I hardly find myself in a mood to game and say, I think I’ll ignore my Xbox and play on my phone.
The idea that mobile phone gaming has the potential to kill console gaming sounds like more of a pipe dream than a reality. If there’s any market that could be in direct threat of the growth of mobile phones, it is portable gaming. But more on that later.