Mobile Gaming Advances to Look for in 2013
Tara Wagner is a staff writer for TechBreach. She has worked from home for over a decade, and loves sharing news and advice with fellow telecommuting moms and dads. She’s fascinated by new tech and new ideas; and when she finds time to unplug, she enjoys long hikes in the mountains near her home. She lives in Denver.
More nails in the console coffin?
With every passing year, mobile devices take more and more market share away from home PC and Console gaming. Last September, the entire industries sales were down 24 percent compared with the year before, and mobile gaming was (predictably) way up. 2013 will prove to be another year where mobile gaming takes more territory from consoles, and it will do so with some exciting new advances in technology, game design, and marketing from developers.
Last year saw some hefty advances in mobile processing power, with quad-core processors from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon to Nvidia’s Tegra 3, and huge boosts in RAM like the 2 GB offered in Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Processors and memory like that theoretically can support 4K video, or 55 megapixel images—the kind of capability you’d expect from high-end video cards, or $4,000 professional cameras.
The only real limitation is on the design end—developers are just beginning to take full advantage of the power of high-end tablets and phones. EA just released a new free-to-play racing simulator, Real Racing 3, which looks like first generation Xbox 360 racing games, and there is a lot more to come this year from other major developers.
We’ll also see Apples new A7 land in the iPhone 5S, with a quad core processor and quad core GPU. Nvidia’s Tegra 4 powerhouse boasts 72(!) custom GPU cores, alongside Samsung’s Exynos 5 which has an obnoxious 8-core CPU. Get ready for your phone or tablet to run circles around your friend’s laptop.
Developers Cash In
While casual gamers are still the target audience, gone are the days of crappy 8 bit looking games and even rudimentary 3D games; we’re starting to finally get the good stuff. Look for games this year like Shadowrun Online, a futuristic RPG with Diablo style game-play. Gangstar Vegas looks promising, with graphics that rival the latest Grand Theft Auto; and Modern Combat 5’s screen shots look like they might have been pulled from Black Ops 2.
The biggest issues developers are wrestling with isn’t whether to push out high-end games, but how to price them. Square Enix is selling Final Fantasy VII for 15 bucks, while EAs latest release is free with the option of in-app-purchasing. This year we’ll see developers finally decide whether they’re going to charge us a normal game price, or stick it to us with the “freemium” model.
Nvidia Stakes its Claim
Nvidia has made a name for themselves supplying high-end video for the best laptops and desktops on the market; but now they’ve built their own mobile gaming device, called Project-Shield, built on Android with a 720p HD screen, a handheld controller, and a Tegra 4 chip. What’s more, you can connect via WiFi to your home computer and play any game you have loaded on your Steam account over the cloud. It accomplishes this by using your PC to do all of the heavy lifting, using the WiFi to send video and control signals between the PC and handheld device. It remains to be seen how a modern game-boy will compete in the current shark-tank of high-end tablets and phones, but the technology is very promising.
Can Consoles Survive?
The statistic in the first paragraph about console sales being down should be taken with a grain of salt. While it doesn’t account for game purchases, the fact that current generation consoles are noticeably on their last legs certainly should factor into why so many fewer people are investing in purchasing a new device. Once the PlayStation 4 and next gen Xbox are released this year, expect a surge in console and video game sales to disrupt the market.
Consoles are still viable, but with so many years between major upgrades it’s easy to see how mobile gaming will catch up very quickly with the power consoles bring to the table. Sony and Microsoft both have mentioned their intentions to tie in mobile devices with their consoles, which isn’t just a smart move for them, it’s a fantastic move for gamers. Expect to be able to not only interact with your console game with your device, but to actually play it on the go when you leave the house.