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Mobile Gaming Prepares To Overtake Traditional Video Games

Mobile games – the apps you download onto your phone or tablet – used to be a bit of an afterthought in the gaming industry, behind the bigger console and computer markets.

But mobile games are growing fast, and are reaching millions of users who don’t consider themselves gamers.

The mobile gaming industry held its annual awards dinner last night, and the game Monument Valley took the Grand Prix.

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with Neil McFarland, the developer behind the $4 mobile game about what’s going on in the industry.

Interview Highlights: Neil McFarland

On whether winning the top prize for Monument Valley translates into dollars

“Hopefully yes. We’ll start finding out in the next couple days. We’ve been out there for a little over a year now and we’ve done quite well in that time. In terms of revenue, we’re a little over $6 million in revenue and we’re very pleased how things have gone.”

What were you trying to do with this game?

“We call her Princess Ida. She is trying to get to the top of these monuments and the story unfolds – so there is a narrative to this game. But yes, we were trying to reach a very broad audience. We’ve all been – the people on the team, I mean – we’ve all been playing games most of our lives, so therefore have seen a lot of different types of games and have become sort of jaded with it in some respects, but still looking for new things and are still surprised. So what we wanted to do was produce a game that could excite a broad range of people – and specifically people that would call themselves non-gamers. So we tried to make something that could be instantly appealing, very clean design, not too much going on in the way of user interface and wasn’t in any way scary for someone to pick up and have a go at.”

On the projections for mobile to outpace the console industry this year

“In some ways it doesn’t surprise me. Most people have a smartphone in their pockets, so the barrier to entry is lowered in that respect. You’re buying a phone anyway; you’re not having to buy a specialist piece of equipment. So it wins on that front. And as the power of the phones increases, the performance and the graphics come closer to the console market anyway, so for a whole host of reasons, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that mobile gaming can overtake the console market because it’s just easier to do for the end user.”

On those saying mobile games can’t compete with games like Grand Theft Auto

“There’s no dispute there. But it’s the same reason why I might go and watch a film at the IMAX cinema, whereas I watch way may more films on download on my TV at home. I think there’s a place for everything, and some blockbuster things will always draw the attention and have a place on console. But there’s a huge audience for all kinds of different other titles that can be serviced on a smartphone.”


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

An image from the Monument Valley game (monumentvalleygame.com)
An image from the Monument Valley game (monumentvalleygame.com)