While consoles slug it out, mobiles games zip in

The big three game console makers brought their latest kick-ass wares to the industry's annual get-together this week, but some question their future amid an explosion of super-nimble mobile gaming.

Nintendo provided the first glimpse of a second-generation Wii, Microsoft added a string of tricks to its hot-selling Xbox 360, while Sony introduced its "PlayStation Vita" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

But while the spotlight was on blockbuster hardware and software offering shoot-em-up and slug-it-out games like "Battlefield" and "Mortal Kombat," some analysts say the "console wars" could one day be seen as a passing sideshow.

Whether on smart-phones, tablet computers or online on laptops and desktop PCs, gaming that does not involve paying hundreds of dollars for a dedicated console and up to 60 dollars for premium games is gathering pace.

"The growth of mobile gaming has been meteoric," Scott Steinberg, head of consulting firm Tech Savvy Global, told AFP at the sprawling three-day Los Angeles event, which wrapped up Thursday.

"There are thousands of games proliferating on a variety of devices, many of which players can enjoy and access for free... it's presenting probably the greatest threat the traditional video games industry has ever faced," he said.

Social gaming - multi-player games played online, typically using avatars - has been around for a number of years, but what is new is their growing sophistication, and the sheer numbers of people flocking to play them.

Add to that ever-accelerating Internet speeds, and the dizzyingly expanding array of mobile gadgets on which games can be played, and you have a trend to worry the boardrooms of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.

In a hotel suite away from the main show this week, some of the new twists in the gaming world were on display.

They included a version of mass-selling FIFA soccer game, but using an iPad as a table-top pitch and iPhones as hand-held controllers, or Apple's market-leading tablet also used in horizontal mode as a board to play Monopoly.

Steve Stamstad of Electronic Arts Interactive, one of the main new-platform game makers, said the growth of mobile gaming was not a threat to the console-based giants.

"We don't see it cannibalizing the market in any way," he told AFP, as a group of 20-something game developers played enthusiastically on their new creations.

"These are basically additive... We don't look to have games that you play on an iPad or an iPhone take the place of a PS3 or whatever, the experiences are wholly different," he said.

New platform gamers tend to play for shorter times, but more frequently, he said, while noting research that more female players use gaming websites - perhaps not unsurprisingly, for skeptics about violent console games.

Zynga, the company behind the mega-hit "Farmville" game on Facebook, is preparing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) later this month on the basis of its runaway success.

Developers may only charge cents or a few dollars for their wares - or give them away for free, making money with ads or selling virtual merchandise - but with the huge number of players, the income stacks up.

"Zynga is going to be an IPO to look out for," Kushal Saha of Cascadia Capital told Investor's Business Daily, adding: "I would be shocked... if we didn't have three or four gaming IPOs between now and this time next year."

Steinberg said the move towards mobile and online gaming is as significant a development as the arrival of the main consoles themselves, which ended the era of gaming arcades in the 1980s.

"It's ushering in a second golden age for gaming," he said, noting that social gaming is expected to grow from a $1 billion industry now to a $5 billion in 2015 - behind the traditional industry's $20 billion, but gaining.

For all the buzz around mobile and online gaming in Los Angeles this week, no-one is predicting the demise of consoles any time soon.

"It's not going to happen in the short term. There's still a massive reliance on physical goods and retail product, its not going to suddenly be abandoned," said Steinberg.

Susan Panico, senior director of Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN), saw the mobile gaming trend as complementing videogame consoles that offer more cinematic and sophisticated experiences and link to the Internet "cloud."

"Certainly every form of entertainment competes for people's time," she told AFP at E3. "What's great about smartphones or tablets is they are gateways into gaming when people want more immersive, deeper experiences."

Philip Asher of games developer Trendy Entertainment said: "I don't think consoles are going to disappear, just evolve. Their function will be media, not purely games, and their input may be completely different."

"That said, I believe mobile games are completely changing the industry and directly competing with console games," he said, adding that games will have to evolve so they can cross between platforms.

"Many of these platforms will be able to play with each other; so, you can start your game on your console, continue it on the bus in your phone, and play it later in the office on your PC.

"Gaming will become more about content and less about the platform that content is on."

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Bristol

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

    £18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

    Senior Automation Tester – Permanent – West Sussex – Circa £40k

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    Day In a Page

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities