E3 2017 – Glaring omission

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Very little interest in mobile gaming at E3.

  • E3 is the biggest trade show for the computer games industry but it still seems to be ignoring one of its most important segments: gaming on mobile devices.
  • Mobile gaming is radically different from gaming on PCs and consoles in three ways:
    • First: PC and console games are much more expensive and more complex.
    • Second: They require high-end PCs or dedicated hardware to run optimally compared to mobile games which run well on most smartphones.
    • Third: They are played for long periods of time whereas mobile games are played for a series of short periods.
  • This means that the software and hardware required to address this segment is completely different but that does not mean that there is no opportunity for the PC and console players in mobile.
  • This is because, I think that the hundreds of millions of users who play PC and console games also play games on their mobile phones.
  • These are different games, played in a different way with a different monetisation system but because the players are the same I see no reason why the big game communities should not be leveraged into mobile.
  • Sony, Microsoft and Valve have all spectacularly failed to leverage the multiplayer communities that they have on PCs and consoles onto mobile phones.
  • I believe that this is why the Digital Life segment of Gaming in mobile remains almost completely unoccupied.
  • This is very different to China where mobile gaming is dominated by Tencent with NetEase coming a distant second.
  • Hence, because Gaming is the single largest segment of Digital Life (30%), I think there is a big opportunity being left on the table.
  • This is the rationale for why I think Microsoft should be prepared to sell Xbox if the right offer comes along.
  • Someone with the ability to do with Xbox what Microsoft cannot should be willing to pay more for the asset than it is worth to Microsoft.
  • It is under these circumstances that I have advocated for its sale as it would generate more value for shareholders than remaining inside Microsoft (see here).
  • The same could be said for PlayStation but because it is such an important part of Sony, I seriously doubt that it would sell under any circumstances.
  • I can’t say the same for Microsoft which is continuing to do very well in dominating the Digital Work ecosystem but is letting its consumer ecosystem fade away.
  • Activision Blizzard looked to be making move on mobile gaming with its acquisition of King Digital but unfortunately, the mobile user numbers for King Digital have fallen by around 35% since the acquisition.
  • Hence, I think that this segment remains wide open creating a big opportunity for someone who has the skill and determination to do in mobile what Microsoft and Sony clearly do not.

3 thoughts on “E3 2017 – Glaring omission

  1. AR games may well tilt time spent in a game more towards mobile. We will have a better feel for this after the holiday season, when we see how good the games are using Apple’s ARkit and how much revenue they produce and whether there is a drop off in the console/PC games market.

  2. XBox One S is a PC – the best gaming PC you can buy that runs on Windows 10.

    Mobile Gaming is, as you say, casual gaming, that so far has lent itself to a few different types of games – ones like Candy Crush or bubble popping that don’t really mean anything, or more meaningful (rare) puzzle solving games like Monument Valley. There are story-driven games as well, but none of these has a strong history of developing into series the way that Mario lives on Nintendo or Halo lives on XBox.

    Square Enix is the best representative from the traditional games world shown at E3 for reaching across to mobile – Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go are excellent, and were big successes, that have since petered out, although there’s people making community-contributed maps for Deus Ex Go.

    Nintendo made some errors with Super Mario Run – it was supposed to be a simple mobile game, but they ended up spending as much on it as they do on a console game, and it’s an endless runner that’s easy to get bored with. It makes the egregious error of not being playable when in airplane mode. Separately, Nintendo annoyed people with the shortage of NES Classic console availability. They should have released the classic games for mobile and AppleTV with controller support, and fueled retro love / continued to make money off retro gaming. It would have been less effort and expense than they put into Super Mario Run, and garnered more good will (and revenue from in-app purchases of additional games.)

    But there’s inroads being made:
    Sony Playlink lets players use iOS devices for local multi-player games.
    Alto’s Adventure (a good endless runner) is getting a sequel, Alto’s Odyssey. (Sequels can happen.)
    Minecraft will allow iOS gamers to play with Windows 10, Android users, making iOS Minecraft a first class citizen among Minecraft clients.

    It’s going to be a while before we see Battlefront or Battlefield on a mobile platform, but mobile is getting more attention at E3 2017 than it has in years past.

  3. Your are right E3 should be more inclusive but the problem is the audience it wants to appeal to is in a fashion hostile to mobile viewing it as inferior even though as you also correctly point out very likely play mobile games too, the core games industry is filled with contradictions.

    On top of that even some of the major players like Sony, EA etc deem mobile as not the place for E3 because of the above further re-enforcing the view.

    E3 will continue to lose relevancy unless it is able to unite all of the various wings of the games industry and stop pandering to just one part.

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