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Mobile vs Console and PC Gaming: Who Wins?

As Google Play and the Apple iOS App Store celebrate ten years of delivering applications to smartphone users, gaming technology for mobile devices continues to improve in leaps and bounds.

With smartphone technology getting more intuitive and powerful, so do the gaming possibilities on your mobile device become more appealing. However, are they appealing enough to truly make an impact on the PC and console market? Let’s take a look at some of the differences between mobile and traditional video gaming to see what could be in store for gamers in the future.

Let’s first take a look at video gaming on PC and consoles can offer players.

When it comes to graphical intensity there really is no comparison between mobile gaming and PC and console gaming. While handheld devices such as the Nintendo Switch offer a mobile alternative, it still doesn’t pack enough punch to truly compete on an even field with the PC and console market — and the average smartphone possesses even less graphical power. While there have been huge advancements in mobile technology, with new devices coming equipped with more powerful processors and RAM than ever before, only PC and consoles are able to deliver the power required for 4K imaging, the hottest new thing in gaming.

The second biggest gripe that players have had when comparing mobile gaming and traditional video games is the cost of playing. Mobile games on the whole are many times cheaper than games on PC and console however, with the rise of the indie scene, as well as advancements in the way companies get funding (such as crowd funding and outsourcing), game development on traditional platforms is at last set to become more affordable. Cheaper development means that games themselves should become cheaper and more able to compete with the ultra low-cost of most mobile video games. Additionally, many developers are adopting a free-to-play scheme supported by in-game purchases that has already been popularised by the mobile market. Games such as Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, and even the online slots industry have already begun to lean similarly into this approach, and we’re seeing it more and more in console and PC games, too.

The future of gaming is mobile? [Image courtesy Wikimedia]

However, while video game pricing is set to become more affordable, the price to maintain and upgrade physical devices is unfortunately at an all-time high thanks to the rising popularity of cryptocurrency mining. The popularity of things like Bitcoin and Ethereum mining have not only seen huge increases in the demand for GPUs, leading to a huge supply shortage for PC components, but the increased demand has also made the price of GPUs skyrocket, with PC enthusiast site Tom’s Hardware finding that some GPUs have more than tripled in price in the last year.

With the price of video gaming already much higher than mobile gaming in most aspects, from game price to hardware, the mobile gaming industry looks stronger than ever. Not only do most people already own a gaming-capable smartphone already, but mobile applications are generally compatible on most devices. Combine this compatibility with the huge range of mobile games on offer and you are certain to find a game for you on any device, regardless of make or model.

Taking a look at other aspects of mobile gaming, such as the surge in popularity of mobile smartphone and tablet “controllers” that hook onto your device to give you more control over your in-game character, and you have access to a similar level of control that you would experience on a PC or console. Gone are the days of mobile players trying to control their game through touchscreen controls only, opening up even more gaming space on devices whose screens are not only becoming bigger but also clearer with more pixels than ever before.

Finally, and for some most importantly, mobile smartphones and tablets are making far better use of VR and AR than their video game counterparts. The main reason is, of course, that mobile VR is much more affordable than PC and console versions, making it much more accessible to the average user.

As mobile gaming gains popularity, we may soon be in a situation where video gaming in the traditional sense will be even more niche than it already is, and the process has already begum with some of our favourite video games are already available for mobile platforms. Games like X-COM: UFO Defence, Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Minecraft: Pocket Edition and more have made the successful transition to mobile.

As technology continues to improve, with chipsets becoming smaller but more powerful, we should start seeing more and more video games make their way onto the mobile platform. Does this mean that video gaming as we know it is dead, though? Far from it. With 4K capability for smartphones still a while off, as well as a massive eSports following for PC games in particular, it is difficult (but not impossible) to see a future without traditional PC and console gaming.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.