Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. For this reason, I won’t claim to have predicted the eventual and seemingly continuous fall of Zynga and social gaming in general for the right reasons. I did believe that it was more of a fad than a sustainable business model, but it wasn’t until tonight as I was exploring Zynga stock in hopes of finding a silver lining, a reason to hop on board now that it’s so darn cheap.
More so than ever before, the biggest names of the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles have been sequels or part of a franchise. Yet, while the gaming industry continues to hedge its bets by only putting money into established names, the market is continually moving in the direction of mobile games. This year’s E3 is an indicator that big video game companies need to appreciate the potential that mobile gaming represents before they start falling behind. That said, with the way aspiring game designers and the growing number of design schools have refocused their efforts, it is likely the market will have no choice.
Most students considering video game design school have caught onto this trend and now have the intention of creating indie, mobile and social games in mind. Schools have responded by beginning to offer classes in mobile gaming. While video game design schools are still in their nascent stages, they are growing quickly and front runners are emerging. Currently the video game design program at USC is ranked is the top ranked however competition is thick, fierce and growing.
Although this year’s E3 has concentrated more on video game designer’s already established console market, mobile gaming has seen an increasing amount of discussion in the gaming industry and Games made by tiny teams of neophyte programmers like Words with Friends and Angry Birds have changed the way that consumers few video games, and have made quite a bit of money in the process. While the traditional console and PC gaming studios have been slow to respond, many of this year’s E3 announcements show that this is changing, and Sony is stepping up to take the lead.
Sony had previously announced the launch of PlayStation Suite last January, but on June 5th, Sony announced that the project had been renamed PlayStation Mobile. Initially designed as a means for gamers to play PlayStation titles across multiple Sony platforms, the name change came with the news of HTC, the largest producer of Android phones, is becoming the first company to be certified by Sony, and will soon be hosting a growing number of older PlayStation titles converted for mobile interface.
“HTC is focused on delivering innovative mobile experiences for people everywhere and [Sony Computer Entertainment’s] immersive world of gaming will bring compelling entertainment to HTC One customers across the globe,” said Kouji Kodera, Chief Product Officer of HTC.
Sony is the first console producer to attempt to make their more famous titles accessible on smartphones.
In a starkly different move, Nintendo is attempting to coax gamers back to the old ways of mobile gaming on proprietary consoles, like the PSP or Gameboy. Nintendo’s Wii U console was first announced at last year’s E3 amid fierce speculation as to its chances of success in a post iPhone world, but on June 5th Nintendo announced plans to integrate the Wii with the Wii U and allow for Zelda and Mario to jump from the TV to the mobile device. Despite claims made by Nintendo’s President for North America Reggie Fils-Aime that this will “revolutionize your living room,” it has done little to abate concerns that Nintendo will be unable to draw gamers away from free games on their smartphone.
“It’s crucial that the new software create demand and a market,” said Satoru Kikuchi pf Deutsche Bank AG, which rates the share hold value for Nintendo. “They need two or three original titles that can exploit the features of the Wii U.”
However, if the WiiMote proves substantially less successful than PlayStation Mobile, it may prove to be the sign of bigger changes to come in the gaming industry.