Gaming Around the World: Mobile vs Consoles

Gaming around the world: Mobile vs Consoles

Home gaming consoles came into existence only about 40 years ago with the Atari 2600, but this middle aged industry is already being challenged by a younger, fresher, more accessible rival being called “mobile gaming.” While both have coexisted for the last eight years or so, we’re starting to see mobile gaming take over areas where home console gaming just hasn’t, and it’s begging the question, is mobile gaming leaving the home consoles in their dust?

Looking at hardware, This current console generation (PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U) has sold a total of 40-million consoles when you add them all together, it’s a decent number,  especially when you consider that this console generation has been the most expensive one to date, but the problems start when you compare the numbers to other, more mobile devices.

Apple alone sells nearly 40-million smartphones in a single yearly quarter these days. Android isn’t far behind, with 2013 marking the year that android device activations had hit the 900 million mark, far more devices than consoles have even come close to selling.

Source: Wikipedia Commons


Though, all these comparisons might be unfair. After all, not everyone uses their phone or device to play games; some people just use it to call, text, or surf the web. A closer comparison to the home gaming consoles might be the PS Vita or Nintendo DS, mobile gaming devices built purely for games. Well, things aren’t looking good for home consoles on that front either.

The Nintendo DS has sold 154-million units, nearly five times the amount the amount this console generation has sold. This isn’t a particularly new trend either, the classic Nintendo Gameboy managed to sell nearly 120 million units, and that’s without counting its extensions like the Gameboy Color or Gameboy Advance. It’s hard to argue with the outstanding success that mobile systems have seen.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The shift towards mobile gaming is noticeable around the world no matter where you go it seems too. Here in the US it’s hard to go through single day without somebody tapping away on their phone playing Flappy Bird or Candy Crush. Gamze Cavdar, Turkish citizen and teacher at Colorado State University added that things aren’t so different in Turkey, where smart phones, tablets, and mobile technology is on the rise and with gaming on them following suit.

The situation seems to be similar in Peru according to Peruvian-American Leonella Lopez who told me “people go out to computer cafe’s to play MMOs or League of Legends [PC games that need internet connection, a feature that many Peruvian homes don’t have], but for the most part people play on their phones.” Thiago, a Brazilian student studying in America said the same thing roughly: “People play on computers and some consoles, but most people just play through apps on phones.” Thiago and Leonella both  cite their home country’s economy and the price of the foreign consoles as the main reason phones are doing so well while consoles aren’t.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Even across the world all the way in Osaka Japan, school teacher Yuki Hashimoto noticed that, in his words, “many young people love games now. They play games in the bus, in the park, or waiting for someone.” Hashimoto also mentioned that “recently they [Teenagers] tend to play on cell-phones instead of Nintendo or PlayStation.” It’s also interesting to note that Hashimoto, his wife, and their son all play games on their phones and tablets, but haven’t purchased a home gaming console in the last 15 years.

So, in other words, the world is going mobile, and if trends continue it’s only going to get more mobile from here on out. That being said, just because mobile is winning, it doesn’t mean that home gaming is losing.

Last year’s  international DOTA 2 championship was watched by more than 20-million, then this year the season 3 League of Legends tournament more than 32-million were watching teams from around the globe play for the million dollar prize.  That’s 1/3rd the viewership of the 2015 Super Bowl. In comparison, here is 2014’s Flappy Bird tournament with its 600 views on YouTube, though I can’t recommend watching for more than 30 seconds.


No disrespect to Flappy Bird, but it’s not exactly the type of game you can get 32 million people to sit around and watch. Heres the link to 2013’s highlight reel for the DOTA 2 tournament for reference.

A home console title everyone has heard of, Call of Duty, had its Anaheim championship tournament where 21-thousand people purchased tickets to view pro’s play the game they love. Evo 2013 drew six thousand entrees for their console dominated fighting game tournaments, and that’s just entrees, not general attendance.

While mobile gaming might have more people on more devices, what they lack is the “hardcore” console audience that can only ever exist on consoles. Some games like League of Legends, Dota, Call of Duty, and most fighting games are either too fast paced or hardware dependent to exist on tiny screens and small hard drives.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

It’s also important to keep in mind that while this console generation only sold 40-million units, those units are double or even triple the price of most mobile devices, while their games on average cost $50-$70. There might not be as many players, but these players seem to be much more invested in their console gaming than most people are in their phones.

Person to person there’s more demand for phones, tablets, and mobile devices, there’s no arguing that, but consoles have games that simply can’t exist on smaller, weaker devices, and players that show their devotion by paying many times more than what any right-minded mobile gamer does. As long as there are developers making good console games, there will be driven console gamers, even if they are fewer in number and less noticed on the streets.

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