This episode originally released February 11, 2017. While the full episode includes discussion with three additional co-hosts, below you will find the original script for my episode introduction and my introductory report for the episode’s main topic. 

[intro – 0:00]

Almost as long as there have been video games, someone has been trying to figure out a way to put them in your pocket. The first handheld gaming devices began actually appearing as early as the 70s. Mattel started things off with a line of LED, single-game handhelds. Just two years later, Milton Bradley came out with the Micro-Vision, the very first multi-game portable system. It had a tiny, 16×16 pixel screen, buttons that broke easily, and only a handful of games.

So… If you’ve never heard of the micro-vision before, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The idea of a reliable, successful, multi-game portable wouldn’t become a reality for another ten years. Because in 1989, Nintendo finally unveiled the Game Boy.

Other companies, like Sega and Atari, took their own stabs at the portable market, but Nintendo stole the show. With 118 million units sold, the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color, actually still stand together as the third best selling video game console of all time. And when considering the Game Boy Advance line, we can throw another 81 million on top of that.

Portable gaming has always been a big part of the industry. In 2004, Nintendo released the DS, followed the next year by Sony releasing the PlayStation Portable. And both did incredibly well. The DS actually has out-performed the Game Boy, selling a staggering 154 million units.

But then something changed… Apple released the first iPhone in 2007. Then the app store launched in 2008. And now, hardly ten years later, mobile gaming is not only the fastest growing part of the games industry, it’s also already the largest.

This… is the Game Café, the weekly podcast from all of us here at Gamespresso.


[main topic – 19:18]

For better or worse, mobile gaming has taken the role of handhelds. But that’s not all it’s done. Mobile gaming, the very fact that almost everyone has a gaming device right in their pocket, is changing the fundamental idea of what it means to be a gamer.

For a long time you had the stereotype of gaming being for teenage boys. And for at least a little while, that was probably true. But we are long past games just being for teenage boys. The average gamer is in their thirties now, and there are just as many women as there are men.

The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA, the group that puts on E3, classifies regular gaming as three or more hours a week. And by that measure, women over 18 make up almost twice as much of the gaming population as boys under 18. And mobile gaming is a large part of that.

When it comes down to it though, there is still a stigma about mobile gaming. There are plenty of people that say, “Well it’s not real gaming.” But before getting much further, it’s worth asking, what makes it “not real”? Is it the touch controls? Is it that you can play in short bursts, while waiting for a bus or standing in line? Or is it that the games are often free-to-play?

After all, doesn’t free-to-play carry a stigma of it’s own? Ilkka Paananen, chief executiveof Supercell, the company behind Clash of Clans, actually has an answer for the complaints so many of us usually level at free-to-play games. Speaking with the Guardian, Paananen said, “Games are still a form of art, not a form of science. You can’t design fun on a spreadsheet. And if you want to make an industry for the long-term, if you can’t create fun games, there’s no future.” It’s something mobile developers arethinking about.

So in short, mobile gaming is gaming. And for a lot of companies, it’s big business. At the beginning of 2016, estimates guessed the yearly global revenue for mobile gaming at just short of 37 billion, roughly 37% of the total games industry, but still more than consoles or PCs individually. With higher revenue across the board, and the surprise success of Pokemon GO, that number has now jumped to 41 billion.

Thanks to the mobile market’s continuing success, things are beginning to change. Perhaps most famously, Nintendo has always been against bringing their games to mobile, preferring to develop games for hardware that the company designs itself.

But that stopped being the case when Nintendo announced a partnership back in 2015 with mobile platform DeNA. Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata spoke with Time when the company first made the announcement, saying, “We will not merely port games developed for our dedicated game systems to smart devices just as they are—we will develop brand new software which perfectly matches the play style and control mechanisms of smart devices.”

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. First with the release of Super Mario Run. Then more recently we’ve seen Pokemon Duel and Fire Emblem Heroes. And just this week, speaking with investors, Nintendo promised two to three new mobile games every year going forward.

At the same time, you have companies like Square Enix making the most out of mobile with games like Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, and Square Enix Montreal’s Hitman GOLara Craft GO, and Deus Ex GO, games that are actually beginning to port over onto consoles and PC.

So with all of this in mind, I’ll open it up. Do you like the momentum all of this has? Have you liked what Nintendo has put out so far? And do you want to see more companies moving in the same direction?