The Hills Are Greener: Wherefore Art Thou, Mobile Gaming?

The Hills Are Greener: Wherefore Art Thou, Mobile Gaming?

Jul 25, 2011

Mobile gaming is here to stay, and its prominence and importance are only increasing. You wouldn’t know this from going to conventions, though. Having been to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and seeing the gaming companies’ offerings, mobile gaming was practically non-existent. Capcom advertised Street Fighter IV Volt on one of their booths, Sega featured Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing in their Sega Arcade setup. Both of these are games that are already out, though, and the extent of other companies’ mobile offerings were jack and squat. The only original title that was seen there was a game that played like the classic copter game, but with unicorns. It was admittedly so memorable that I don’t even remember what the game was called, except that unicorns were involved. GameSalad had a booth set up to demo their game programming solutions, and both the Pocket God and Cut the Rope comics made an appearance at Ape Entertainment’s booth.

Is that a paragraph full of examples? Yes. But that was pretty much it for mobile gaming, and Android was nowhere to be found. Granted, mobile gaming is not as sexy as console gaming, designed for huge HDTVs and flashy displays. But everyone had a smartphone. Everyone probably has at least one game on it. It’s still cheaper to set up mobile devices than the big console and TV setups that they had, and this is a place to show off products to people who can buy them right away. Why not use it more? It is a self-replicating problem; mobile gaming isn’t going to get bigger without companies making it a big deal.

The biggest sign of mobile gaming’s rising prominence comes not in mobile releases, but in the migration of mobile titles to other platforms. Fruit Ninja Kinect was a big draw at Microsoft’s Xbox gaming lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel, with contests to win Xbox systems. As well, Roku was promoting Angry Birds coming to the Roku 2 heavily, with people dressed up in costumes, handing out temporary tattoos to help promote the game coming to the media device. Mobile gaming may nt be making a splash on its original home, but franchises from there are starting to spread out. Perhaps that is the real draw of mobile gaming, as it is a kickstarter. GameSalad’s booth was expressly for that purpose – to get content creators to try their software and use the power of mobile and web gaming to spread their creations. That is what mobile gaming can truly do, and perhaps that is harder to show than putting a game on large, flashy display.