The main differences between mobile and PC/console game design

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Gaming is one of the most popular pastimes in the US, with many players being ‘platform agnostic’ in that they regularly switch between experiences on PC, console, smartphone and tablet.

Research shows that there are now more than 200 million mobile gamers in the US and the majority play games at least 10times a week. This pattern of behavior has helped the mobile market to generate a staggering $68.2bn globally – a 46% share compared to console ($45.3bn) and PC ($35.3bn).

While certain tenets of game design are shared across mobile, PC and console releases, there are certain factors such as input methods and monetization that make mobile experiences unique.

Controls

The main difference between a smartphone and console for gaming are the control methods. Mobile players interact with games via the touchscreen on their smartphones, while console and PC players use a physical controller or mouse and keyboard. This means that developers have to design mobile games around touch controls and on-screen prompts.

Space and layout

The touchscreen input requires mobile games to optimize the use of space and layout to convey the essentials of a gaming experience more clearly to players. Blizzard was able to do this with its collectible card game Hearthstone by updating its menu screen and adding hard-to-reach buttons in the bottom corners of the UI, where players are naturally able to use their thumbs.

Orientation also plays a role in the mobile experience. Some mobile games can be played in portrait mode, while others switch to a landscape orientation to more closely replicate consoles. Many indie games that have first launched on console have been successfully ported to mobile just by updating the UI and input methods.

Play anywhere

The best developers are able to replicate the experience across a variety of different devices with the right optimization. The best NJ online casino sites allow gamers to play card games and slots on smartphone, tablet, PC and Mac. Whether at home or on the go, players can enjoy a very similar experience, which is testament to excellent game design.

Image quality

The difference in graphics quality between console and mobile games was vast five to 10years ago, but the gap is now closing. Apple’s incredibly powerful A13 chipset, for example, is capable of pushing out graphics at high resolution that closely resemble more powerful PC games at first glance, especially for indie games.

There are certain limitations though, and game designers often have to balance when they need to reduce the image quality to ensure that titles are just as fast and smooth to play on mobile.

Monetization

One major difference that still persists in game design is monetization. Many games that are released on mobile are freetoplay with in-game microtransactions that allow players to buy items. There are also pre-roll ads and in-app advertising that pop up during games. PC and console games still provide a more traditional experience even though the microtransaction model is becoming more prevalent.

To conclude, game design can be very similar or wildly different on mobile and console depending on the type of game. Developers are now more open to bringing games to a wide range of platforms and will optimize accordingly to ensure that the user experience is excellent.