Will Phones Ever Become Primary Gaming Consoles?

Posted Aug 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm in Threads > Games

Of all the games I have purchased form the play store few have truly grasped my attention and keep me playing for hours on end. The truth is when I want to kill zombies, or race cars ill never own I can’t really get into a game when im on the go. Even something as simple as sitting at the DMV won’t truly allow for a good record setting race. The only time you will set records on difficult games is at home or in the bathroom (going number 2). One other major issue is the touch screen controls, and as far as they have come, they can still only do so much. Which brings me to my main point, as good as Android games are getting, they will only really be played on larger screens at home, and with controllers.

The Two Types of Gaming Experiences:
In my opinion, all games on our Android phones break down into two main categories: simple yet fun games, and Complex games.

Simple Games

There is nothing wrong with simple games, in fact, I believe that the simple games such as Angry Birds, Osmos, and Flick Gulf are the best gemes for a phone platform. The are easy to play have great graphics and require little time when you are on the go. These simple games to me, are the limit of what phones are capable of doing and not according to processing power, but rather to playability.

Complex Games

We all know these games they usually sale for around $2.99 – $5.99. They have great graphs, and great story lines that often bare a striking resemblance to console games. This seams to be a major focus for many top game studios such as GameLoft. This is also a huge selling point for high end phone processors like NIVIDIA’s Tegra 3, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4. Its one of the few reasons we are willing to shell out $299 and lock into a 2 year contract. But what good is a processor if these amazing games can’t truly be played?

The Solution

If phones are sold as gaming devices, why isn’t there a huge competitive market for gaming controllers that easily pair with the phones? I could be wrong here but what can these $100 Tegra 3 powered OUYA do that my Galaxy S 3 can’t. We simply need to have an easy way to hook up phones to tv’s, and great controllers that easily pair with our devices.
The technology already seems to be here with the HTC Media Link:

This along with the OUYA controller would make for a truly great gaming experience. Just imagine: You get home from work, set your phone down on the coffee table pick up a controller and begin playing on your TV. OUYA’s kickstart success shows that a lot of people are interested in getting our great Android games up on the big screen and I believe this company is just the start of many to come in a rapidly growing industry. Just give the phone industry a few more years and I’m sure we will have phones that will rival the processing power of todays gaming systems and have the accessories to fully play the games running on them.

So what do you guys think it would take for our phones to truly become gaming consoles?

  • Mix

    I think it will take a very long time before phones can best consoles in terms of computing power but I don’t think a phone will replace a console anytime soon.

    There will always be games on phones but the average “I only play games” phone gamer (ZOMG Angry birds is the best game ever) does not want to have to hook up a controller to their phone or their phone to their TV. I also think that they do not have the attention span to sit and play a game for 1-2+hrs like most video game enthusiasts will do.

    I also think that we need peripherals and that the touch screen will not usurp the controller anytime soon. There will be a market for both phone and console games but I think they supplement two completely separate target markets.

    I think phones will improve but becoming a dedicated console (battery life, heat dissipation, GPU…etc) seems very hard to so. I believe we will have our normal old gaming consoles for a long, long time still.

  • Max.Steel

    Why would you want a phone to become a primary gaming console? There are a few things wrong with that.

    1) Battery power. Playing a simple game on your phone already zaps battery like crazy. Not to mention when you throw in full blown console games with online multiplayer and voice comms and all that. The battery will practically jump from 100 to 0 in 2 minutes.

    2) Convenience. You’re playing team slayer in Halo. Game is tied at 49 – 49. You have the sniper and have your sights on someone when your phone starts ringing.

    3) There’s just no point. Games have always been phones and games have always been on consoles. They both offer different experiences at different times. Like the guy above me said, this new fad that people think they are a gamer because they play Angry Birds or Farmville is laughable and most of them aren’t going to sit down in front of a TV just to play games.

    • Chris Lewis

      Seems like you are looking at the glass half empty rather than half full if you ask me. There are plenty of positives of having a phone powerfull enough to hook up to a tv and play ligament games off of.

      • theviper21

        You are right in that there are some positives to being able to hook up a powerful phone to a TV, but I think the fact that you can’t take calls while you’re in the middle of a game without interrupting it is almost reason enough to not combine them. Aside from that, the battery power would be a big issue.

        It would be nice just to take it over to a friends house and hook it up wirelessly to a TV, but because it’s a phone it’s just not practical.

        • Chris Lewis

          Yeah you definitely have a good point about not being able to make calls. I didn’t even think about that

          • Max.Steel

            I think they can be an extension of consoles rather than a complete replacement though.

      • Prasoon Tiwari 1

        But you can’t play games Like Battlefield 3 , Crysis 2 , MOH Warfighter , Metro 2033 , Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 etc. even many GAMING PC struggle to deal with Metro 2033 on High Graphics Settings . I am a Gamer and I will never use an Smartphone/Tablet as my Primary Gaming Console .

    • dino13

      Well you don’t need to pick up the phone, the same happens anyway even if you don’t play on your phone. Other than that it helps only having one device. The big problem is battery but still most of the people today have droppped allready their MP3players in favor of their phones.

  • theviper21

    I think that if phones ever become primary gaming devices, it will be a while. I think a lot of the capability is there, but you have to look at some of the limitations. For once, a lot of people still like to use their phones as phones and want to be able to take/place calls whenever; if you have your phone hooked up to your TV and are playing a game or watching a video, it has to be paused at a minimum to be able to take the call, yet alone unhooked if there’s a physical connection. There’s also battery life to take into consideration.

    I think it’s possible that phones could completely replace portable gaming devices like the Gameboy and whatever the current Sony device is, but there are just too many reasons to keep your main home gaming system separate.

    Now, what would be nice as they get more developers on board, is an Android console!

  • pliu.2014

    If the screens got bigger and the cpu and graphics chips got bigger. Think about it like this, all the game consoles are computers and what do the computers have over phones, better processors and graphics chips. we have part of the equation with airplay for the bigger screen but the processors have a a year or two to go. So yes

    • theviper21

      If the screens got big enough on phones to be able to consider it a true gaming device, I don’t think you could really consider it a phone. Phone/mini tablets like the Dell Streak are huge if you use them as a phone and I don’t see screens getting that big being a trend. Granted, technology may advance to a point where it’s easy enough to pack powerful enough chips into a phone to drive a graphic intensive game, but I think it’s ridiculous to think of a phone having a 5+ inch screen.

      • Chris Lewis

        I dont know, I mean 5+ inch phones are becoming more and more poplar. Too big for me personally but the note 2 is looking like a sick phone

        • DrFaust

          I can tell you for certain, the Note 2 is indeed a slick phone, but its not even a replacement for my 3DS still. There are certain kinds of games that work great on phones and I love; but there are lots of games that simply require different ways of interacting than a phone can provide, and lots of those games are simply too popular to go away anytime in the foreseeable future.

  • http://reverenddak.straycouches.com reverenddak

    When my phone is more powerful, functional and usable than my desktop (or at-least my laptop) then it will become a formidable gaming device, for me…

    The only difference between a phone, tablet, console, laptop vs desktop is the trade-off you’re willing to make between portability, usability, power and functionality.

    When it comes to gaming, it’s pretty clear that Consoles dominate, but with the success of CASUAL gaming, it’s becoming less of a factor. But consoles hit the SWEET SPOT when it comes to games & price. But that’s changing fast with the popularity of tablets.

    The fact is a Desktop Computer will always be more powerful than a laptop, and a laptop will always be more powerful than a Console and so on… and hardcore gamers play high end games, and high end games will always be written/designed for the most powerful machines at the time. Yes, PC gaming is pretty much a niche when it comes to gaming today, but PC Gaming will always be the most sophisticated games….

    But I can totally see that one day our phones will be our one & only computer device, and we’ll have docks (probably all wireless) at home so we can use keyboards and other controllers with our big screens, that are all over our house. Basically our phone will be a CPU, Memory & Data Drive that we keep on us at all time, and just connect it to whatever devices we need dependant on what we want to do at the time. i.e. play games, check email, watch movies, etc.

  • lchupacabras

    I sure hope not. Phone gaming is a good distraction for those boring moments at work or on the bus but that is about it. In fact, I think that mobile phone game developers really need to start thinking less about a “full-gaming experience” and more about a “unique” gaming experience. Games such as GYRO, Temple Run, Monsters Are My Condo, and Gunman Clive are brilliant because they know what they are: games you can pickup and play at any given time, enjoy for a while, and then set back down equally as quickly. Console-like games, like GTA, Dead Space, Modern Combat, etc., on the other hand, are usually clunky and bug-ridden, may only run on a select few devices well, and are battery-hogs like you’ve never seen!
    I think that, until hand-held consoles evolve to match their home-console cousins, gaming on mobile phones will still be held at much lower standards and for good reason; phones are comminucation devices, first and foremost, being able to run some entertaining distractions is a nice extra luxury. Sure, now we’ve come to expect these luxuries but think back to 10 years ago when SNAKE was the apex of our mobile-phone gaming world. I’d much rather our mobile devices keep treading forward and finding new unique ways to innovate communcation than buff themselves up to ridiculous sizes and over-kill specs just to be able to run that new port of an xbox game that came out 5 years ago.


  • fxanders

    The OUYA is a great example of where we can go with android, but it’s not a phone. It IS a console.

    I don’t think phones will ever over-take consoles as primary devices for gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I use my phone/tablet for gaming A LOT. I probably have over 30 games on my tablet, half of them I’ve paid for full versions, and I get a good chunk of use out of them.

    That being said, I definitely spend way more time with my gaming PC fired up on my big screen. I think there’s a good chance that things like the OUYA can take off and do well, especially now that Gabe has come out and said that they are looking at porting every single steam game to linux. But this does not change the fact that the hardcore gaming community wants more out of games than hand-held size screen and touch-interface can offer. I honestly get sick of playing with a gamepad, because I just have so much less control than I do with a mouse and keyboard.

    • Bpear96

      Im not sure what your getting at with saying , gabe has said that valve will be porting there games to linux. Android is powered by the linux kernel, but it is still much different. Mostly for the fact that it uses dalvik/java. Also most android devices run on the ARM architectural. Which valve would have to port there games to run on that specifically

      • fxanders

        I mean exactly that. Although they certainly aren’t porting all the steam games to android specifically, the fact that they are porting to linux is certainly an indication that heavier gaming COULD be in android’s future.

  • Esoth

    I think Nintendo got it right when they said that people are willing to pay money for a decent handheld/console for content-rich games, rather than just time-fillers.

    • dino13

      At the moment they are right, but what we can already see is that games are getting more and more powerful on android and iphone, it’s just a metter of time when phones will catch up. Nothing then lass you will never have something like the nintendo 3ds as a phone.

  • fc1032

    I find having just my phone for games is horrible.

    * Simple games: Angry birds, temple run and those others don’t appeal to me, they are (in general) repetitive, lack depth and are really there to use the time when Im in a line or something.

    * Emulators: I love the games I play in the past, but a touchscreen is a horrible way to play them. Even simple walk around games like pokemon gets annoying. It is however, much better once a controller is involved. This is probably the reason why I think OUYA will do quite well.

    I haven’t played those actual game titles from the play store since I find the above reasons enough for me to not try. But like others have mentioned, things like battery life already make gaming on solely a phone is hard enough.

  • Chris Lewis

    But what if you could wirelessly hook you phone up to a tv/monitor and use a controller

    • DroidPower

      That’s a great idea. I think the one company that’s in a good position to do that is Microsoft. It’s got the Xbox and the Windows Phone. If it really wants to reach for the stars, it would try to find a way to turn your phone into a controller so that when you go over to your friend’s place, you can just link your phone up to the controller (via bluetooth) and then play. As a side, you should also be able to link up your own profile to the xbox as well.

      Of course, for this type of feature to pick up, MSFT, Sony, and Nintendo have to make the controller feature more software based so it can get into the Android and iOS.

      The challenge will be creating an experience based on physical keys (like the physical buttons and joysticks) on a touch screen device. The biggest problem is we won’t have spatial memory to help us locate the keys on the touch screen. This could be solved by having a physical addon, which is currently available for some games, but who wants to carry around a separate addon all day.

      The company that can solve this problem the easiest is probably Nintendo since the Wii really doesn’t have the complex controls that you usually find on the other consoles. MSFT and Sony could implement touch screen controls for the use with their kinect/move consoles, but that won’t work well with the more popular games like Halo and COD where complex controls are required.

  • decker

    My wife’s phone allows for hdmi out and honestly it was novelty. We tried it a couple times, but the man detractor was battery life and controller. If we had a PS3 controller at that time, maybe it would of caught on.

    I see the Ouya as a branch of console video games. I don’t think phones will ever catch on as the primary gaming device.

    I do see the convergence of games happening. You are playing a game on the subway. You get back to the house and can continue that game on another system (maybe Ouya).

  • Prakhar


    • Chris Lewis

      Could you elaborate on that a little?? I honestly would like to hear your reasons for think it could never happen.

  • jonstle

    I think it depends on the person and the kind of games they like to play. I am a game junkie more importantly a realistic game junkie where as many things are simulated by physics engines and A.I. rather than pre-determined animations triggered by events. That takes a lot of power, much more than any phone can come close to at the present moment, as these games generally push most high end computers.

    But my wife it is safe to say that her phone is already her primary gaming device.

    I do travel a lot however and if they made a phone that you could plug into a TV and pair it with a Bluetooth controller. I would own it in a heart beat. Then I could leave the laptop at home for 95% of my trips.

  • jaysond

    phones will never replace gaming consels that’s why you see 1990 games being played on them I’d rather relax with a controller and a big screen tv anyday

  • KingCrow02

    No, I will still love my PS3

    • jonstle

      Agree fully here.

  • Nicko01

    Phones are far from being optimal for gaming. Unless you’re only talking about casual gaming. That market will probably shift a lot to phones. But there will probably always be a market for non-portable games due to the additional flexibility of having more performance per dollar and more controller options, etc. And if you’re just going to hook your phone up to the TV, why not just have a standalone console/PC? No one wants to carry around cables and controllers just in case they want to play games on a random TV anyway.

    • jonstle

      When I travek a cable and controller is much easier to pack than a laptop and its cables.

  • cypresscliff

    it would be sweet

  • wickedme

    Phones my become even more powerful and be able to have graphics like a console, though, in that time the console will be come even greater. So I doubt a phone will ever really be a primary game machine…

  • kelltrash14

    I think it’s already happening. What android does need is better game support across the board. I want to be able to put down my phone, and pick up my tablet and resume the same game, with all android games.