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Console games face increasing popularity of mobile gaming

By Lauren Moore, Point Park News Service:

After a 10-hour shift, Ethan Renner likes to switch on his Xbox console, turn up his  headphones and play zombie slayer on Call of Duty Black Ops 2.

Chalsea Lunglhofer crushes jawbreakers with her lollipop hammer after hours of homework to relax. She advances through the candy factory and around the lemonade lake to make it through to the next challenge of Candy Crush Saga on her cellphone.

Both represent the old and new in video gaming. Expensive Xbox and PlayStation consoles are still popular but have come into competition with mobile applications for smart phones at a fraction of the cost of their older predecessors.

Courtesy of Candy Crush Saga
Courtesy of Candy Crush Saga

“I play Candy Crush whenever I want to blow off some steam throughout the day – it’s just fun,” said Lunglhofer, 20, of Indiana. “I love the feeling when I finally get past a level I’ve been working at for a couple of days.”

According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the video game industry rakes in $10.5 billion in revenue each year, and the numbers continue to rise. With the upcoming holiday season and the release of two new, competing game systems, the Xbox One ($500) and the PlayStation 4 ($400), the numbers are expected to rise even more. A report from the International Data Corporation predicts 33 million gaming bundles alone will be sold, the highest number in the past four years.

The mobile games sector, however, is increasing because of the advanced technology of mobile devices and gaming applications, which are more like games that can be seen on a console, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

The ESA reported that by 2017, the global wireless games market will reach revenue of $14.4 billion. There are currently about 6.8 billion mobile subscribers.

“I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid. I got the PS1 (PlayStation 1) when it first came out,” said Tyler Peart, a Point Park student. “I don’t really play any game apps, and I doubt game apps will take over video games. They will try, but I don’t like the integration. I’d rather have my phone and my console separate.”

Console gaming has been around since the late 1960s, according to HongKiat.com. The competition didn’t come onto the scene until the 1990s, according to ESA, when Nokia featured “Snake” on its mobile phones.

When the original PlayStation was released, the price was $299 and games were around $45. Then the price of games increased to $50 quickly, according to PlayStation.com.

“If I’m purchasing a new game or reserving it, I’m usually shelling out $60,” said Renner. “If I buy used, I can usually get them for around $20 or $30 for games that are a little older. The new gaming system is where I’m going to be laying down the big bucks, either $400 for the new PlayStation or $500 for the new Xbox.”

The mobile gaming market is also developing mobile versions of console games like Grand Theft Auto 4 and Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows – Part 1, while still maintaining lower prices, according to ESA.

The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are challenged to meet the achievements of their predecessors, which reached more than 300 million sales, according to Polygon.com.

“As far as the new systems go, I’m not 100 percent positive of what I plan on buying,” said Renner. “I want to stay loyal to Xbox and their game selection is definitely better, but I’m also tempted to go back to PlayStation; the new PlayStation looks like it is going to be pretty cool.”

Thirty-six percent of console gamers also enjoy playing games on their mobile devices.

“I much rather play a game on my phone. I can take my phone everywhere with me and play the games whenever I want to. They’re much easier to play than console games, too,” said Lunglhofer. “I’ve tried playing Call of Duty, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.”

With the shift from systems that confine gamers to a TV, the mobile market is exploding according to Flurry, with 1.2 billion people carrying around mobile phones and tablets.

“Not to mention, a lot of the fun mobile apps are free,” Lunglhofer said.

Compared to console game prices, game apps average $5 at most, according to Flurry, and the improvements of the technology in the mobile gaming world allow the gamer’s experience to be more comparable to that of a console gamer.

“I play Angry Birds, but I think apps will never overtake console gaming,” Watson said.

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