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Phone or console?
Illustration by Olivia Woolfrey, Ringling College of Art and Design

Move over PC.

In 2007, the technology landscape changed forever. With the release of the first iPhone, and shortly after, the first iPod touch, it had never been easier to use the internet or contact friends and family on the go. However, as Apple, Samsung and Android began to update their touchscreen phones and tablets further, more and more features quickly became available, one of which being the introduction of mobile games.

There are all different types of mobile games, the same way that there are a ton of different kinds of console or PC games. Arcade, sports, trivia, racing, battle royale — you name it, there’s a mobile game. Yet, regardless of how advanced our pocket technology has become, mobile games are inherently limited by the platform they are on. Phones and tablets cannot handle more intense games the way that consoles and computers can.

Exclusive for Mobiles Games

There are a handful of games that everyone thinks of when talking about mobile games. Typically, these are called “casual games” and contain the likes of Candy Crush, free slots, bingo, Among Us, Angry Birds, and more. Every day, there are more mobile games created by startup companies, which makes sense considering that it is significantly cheaper to fund an app than an entire console or PC video game. 

Some strategy games also came out exclusively for mobile gaming, such as Plague Inc., Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, or Bloons TD. Many gamers couldn’t imagine having these games in any other setting than the tiny screens that sit in their pockets, and this fact alone meant that the gaming community had changed drastically.

Arcade games or platform games are probably the second most popular subgenre of mobile games, including titles such as Subway Surfer, Crossy Road, Temple Run, and even Geometry Dash. These arcade games provide mindless, time-wasting fun that is perfect for a long commute to school or work or just a few minutes of free time before doing something else. One of the most significant benefits of playing mobile games is that they do not often require a large time commitment. Players can start up the games as quickly as they can be shut down, and they don’t need you to go through extensive loading screens or save menus. 

And in an odd twist of fate, a few mobile games have made the massive leap from mobile to console and PC — two of the most notable being Among Us and the games in the Plants vs. Zombies franchise. Mobile games began as a way to provide quick and portable entertainment, but some have quickly become staples in the gaming industry. They are seemingly answering the question of how substantial mobile gaming is. 

Adapted for Mobile Games

In recent years, large gaming companies have seen mobile gaming increase their revenue on popular video games such as Fallout 4, Mario Kart, Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and Apex Legends. These games are already massively popular in their native formats but now have mobile versions that just further their popularity. 

Some of these games were introduced as companions to a series or as a filler in the years that game developers worked on the much larger video games. This is the case with Fallout Shelter, made as a companion to Fallout 4, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, released months before Animal Crossing: New Horizons. These mobile games offer fans a new way to interact with some of their favorite franchises and sometimes even offer exclusive content. In the case of Pokémon Go, which we all remember taking the world by storm, as well as Mario Kart Tour and Apex Legends Mobile, these games ended up featuring exclusive mobile-only content — something that many gamers and developers both did not expect when transferring big-name video games to the tiny screens.

While introducing app-exclusive content is excellent for most, it concerns other (more intense) gamers. Some console and PC gamers don’t see the fairness in giving mobile games exclusive content that they will not see on other platforms. Considering that all these games started somewhere besides a phone app, gamers are confused as to why mobile gamers are given unique content when the apps are typically free-to-play. The more giant video games almost always require a purchase. Either way, video game developers have found mobile gaming to offer another revenue stream, so who can blame them for wanting to spread their game across many platforms?

Esports and Competitive Mobile Gaming

Unsurprisingly, the esports arena has also reached mobile gaming. Call of Duty hosts one of the largest tournaments for Call of Duty: Mobile, with a prize pool of nearly $1 million. 

Clash Royale has also seen the competitive side of players and hosts in its abundance of tournaments, particularly popular in North America. The game is simple: You and your clan compete against other families in tower defense. Knowing the strategies and possessing a little luck brings in lots of cash for some highly talented players. 

Battle royales have always been popular, with Fortnite and Apex Legends hosting intense LAN competitions for their console and PC players. Still, those two games do not have massively popular tournaments for their apps. Instead, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is the most famous battle royale to see an app version. The annual PUBG mobile game has a prize pool of $5 million, which is a crazy amount of money to earn from a free-to-play mobile app. 

External Devices

Recently, mobile games have been introduced alongside new electronic devices — one of the most prominent being controllers for mobile gaming. Mobile games with controller support bring them closer than ever to regular console or PC games. This is the source of some controversy, as computer and system players do not understand why mobile gamers are allowed to play the same way.

Mobile games have always been a fun little way to pass the time. As the games become more advanced, they become much more similar to console and PC games rather than the older, in-your-pocket-only type of games. Mobile gamers are not allowed to play with system gamers at the same time, so getting upset about people having access to games on their phones makes little sense. It is great to see the gaming world continue to grow and include more and more gamers, regardless of their platform.

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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