You’ve done it before playing Deathmatch. You’ve come upon two enemies shooting it out while you hang back to pick off the victor, now hanging on to life by a thread. This image continues to spring to mind whenever I hear a mobile developer or console platform holder sniping back and forth about the true impact of iOS and Android gaming. That guy hanging back? That’s the PC market. You thought it was dead, put it out of your mind, but it’s the one that’s gonna get ya.

Of course, just like real war, there is no winner here. There are only losers, and most of them are the people that actually pay for the games. This isn’t the first time someone in the mobile segment (and, let’s be clear that it is all the same industry) has predicted the death of the home console. Each time I hear this, I wonder how these people can’t see how counterproductive the infighting is.

Most recently, MCV conducted an interview with John Schappert, now with Zynga but formerly of EA and Microsoft’s Xbox Live division. In that interview, Schappert stated that,

“Traditional games have become more core. They require an expensive console, use a controller which laymen are afraid of, and their interfaces are not always the easiest to use.”

This statement assumes a zero sum approach. Nintendo has already defied that logic with the Wii, introducing thousands of new households to gaming and, in direct contrast to this statement, console gaming specifically. There is room in the world for social and mobile gaming alongside console gaming. Sure, the Ven diagram shows some overlap, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be an either/or proposition.

Additionally, this argument still neglects the third, looming presence. PC gaming is alive and well, and frankly, if the number of buttons on a controller scare a layperson, manipulating a keyboard and mouse must be the stuff of nightmares. It seems, though, that many people are conquering their fears. According to the PC Gaming Alliance report issued in March 2012, that segment of the market grew by 15% over 2010 to $18.7 billion. In fairness, approximately $500,000 of the $2.44 million growth is represented by Zynga, the remaining almost $2 million is largely due to core games like Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, Skyrim and other marquee titles. It is also important to remember that the PC Gaming Alliance is a trade association, so while the statistics may be correct, be aware of bias in the way they are framed. Furthermore, according to a BBC report, Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP! (Draw Something) could be blowing up in the mobile giant’s face.

WebMediaBrands, a company that monitors Facebook connection to mobile apps, has stated that based on their analysis, Draw Something’s daily usership has dropped from 14.3 to 10.4 million people. It’s likely that a combination of growing anti-Zynga sentiment, and the harsh words of OMGPOP!’s CEO toward a member of the staff who opted not to follow the company after the buyout, have contributed to the exodus.

There are a lot of moving pieces in the industry, and we’re in a state of transition. One console generation is coming to and end, with the next set to begin this fall. Nintendo has already been working to increase a touch-based and, reportedly, mobile element to their next home console. It would be unsurprising if Microsoft and Sony didn’t acknowledge the growing mobile audience in some way, much like they’ve done to broaden the appeal of their platforms as entertainment devices. Put simply, it’s too early to pronounce any platform dead on the scene. Just ask any of the growing number of PC gamers.

via[MCV, BBC]


Michael Futter is the Managing Editor of @RipTen. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmfutter.


  1. Not really sure what this article is arguing.  It starts with the contention that mobile and console are ‘at war’ (and while there were a few tablet people, particularly marketing types, talking up the new iPad and Asus, marketing people talking up their new device is hardly unusual!), but then goes on to provide no evidence beyond a vague assertion.

    Given that tablets are selling very well, and consoles continue to sell very well (if you add Wii plus PS3 plus 360, you get a larger number of consoles in the wild than PS2 plus Xbox plus Gamecube at a similar stage in their history) – noting that the economy right now is far worse than it was then. This hardly suggests one device is cannibalising the other, something reinforced by talking to actual gamers.  Of the well over a hundred gamers I know, not one has traded console for tablet (far less phone!) gaming, and only two have shown any interest in tablets at all.  While the sample is small, and skewed, if there was a huge interplay between the two gaming ecosystems then you’d expect to see some movement.  I know plenty of  people that game on console and PC (where there is far more overlap), or have switched emphasis (and back again) between the consoles – not so for tablets/mobile.
    As for PC gaming – Steam saved it, and it is indeed recovering, although the total Steam userbase can’t match either of the 2 HD consoles, let alone the two combined, and a good many of them are running very old machines.  And this is one of the big reasons why, by and large, PC gaming has become console gaming with a keyboard and mouse (which personally saddens me greatly).  I lost access to a gaming PC in the early/mid 2000s, when RPGs, strat games and counter-strike were king.  When I came back last year, counter-strike had failed to evolve and after playing SOCOM on PS2/3 felt downright arcadey (the most tactical shooting available in the last decade was available on console, and ArmA’s aiming mechanics have been dumbed down to deal with using a mouse to aim), RPGs were developed first for console (just look at Skyrim’s interface! Although there are still indie classics like Legend of Grimrock, these are hardly  the style of games that define PC gaming) and strategy games were still there, but are clearly played by a niche minority of PC gamers.  I still game on PC, but I’ve gone from playing core PC gaming genres 10 years ago to being a niche PC gamer now!  Once upon a time PC gaming suggested something about what you liked to play – now it just suggests a preference for a certain style of control method.  Anyways, I’ll go out to pasture in the old PC gamers retirement home!

    • The first paragraph is tongue-in-cheek. I also back linked some other stories about mobile developers claiming that console gaming is dying. It’s also why I put the word “fight” in quotes. 

      I think some of your assumptions might be off. The source articles aren’t about “tablet people.” They are about software people. 

      Additionally, there is growing overlap between mobile and console. It’s growing, in fact. But that’s really the point: overlap. I never said anything about trading, because it isn’t happening (at least not in huge numbers). 

      Console sales are down right now, though it’s hard to say if that’s due to end-of-lifecycle issues or a shift in the marketplace. I tend to think it’s largely the former with a splash of the latter.

      I concur that Steam saved PC gaming, but it may have also saved gaming in general. As things trended to megacorp publishing, Steam provided an effective, low cost mechanism to distribute independent titles. 

      So, what’s the article getting at? It’s highlighting just how many things are in flux and how many different perspectives there are in play. It’s about pointing out how silly the mobile v console argument is. It’s about reminding everyone that the foregone conclusion that PC gaming is dead simply isn’t true.

      As for the statement that gamers are the ones losing out, it’s simple. When someone thinks that mobile and consoles are an either/or proposition, they close themselves of to the possibility of mutually beneficial x-device experiences.

      • Aye, it just seems a little like you were righting about an issue that wasn’t really happening outside of a few skewed press releases.  It deffo does a good job at highlighting how much in flux everything is – it’s an interesting time to be a gamer, that’s for sure, but probably a fairly nervous time for publishers and developers.

        And I see where you’re coming from in terms of the in-fighting.  Competition is good, but if people aren’t competing but rather putting up emotional barriers (not unlike a lot of PC gamers have done towards console gaming ;)) then they only limit their own entertainment.

        • Next time I write something tongue-in-cheek, I’m putting it in italics or something. Want to make it clear. :)

          Thanks for the comments. I greatly appreciate the discussion.

          • Aye, sorry I was a bit slow on the uptake, deffo see the angle you were taking now – keep up the good writing :).

    • “the most tactical shooting available in the last decade was available on console, and ArmA’s aiming mechanics have been dumbed down to deal with using a mouse to aim”

      You can’t be serious.

      • What, the almost complete lack of inertia (including when you’re aiming a tank turret!!!) and sub-Killzone 2 levels of recoil?  Yup, I’m dead serious.  There are some elements of ArmA that are authentic, but the aiming mechanic was very obviously dumbed-down because of what mouse/kb users are used to.  Fun it was, realistic it was not.