Is There a Market for Gaming Smartphones?

Over the past decade, mobile gaming has grown from strength to strength as it is now one of the biggest gaming markets in the world, it covers a huge number of different niches including popular esports titles in Fortnite and PUBG, more casual markets particularly within online gambling and sports betting at some of the biggest online casinos, and plenty of more casual gaming titles too.

Despite this huge growth in gaming, there are very few devices that have been specifically designed for gamers, and the overlap of devices that perform well in gaming and operate as a regular smartphone is very small. ASUS Rog has attempted this, but it is still a very narrow set of devices. So what’s stopping a gaming smartphone from entering the market?

Some tech just isn’t there yet – In order to deliver a smartphone that functions well as a gaming device, it needs to deliver a form factor that fits just right, be small enough to be a pocket device, and offer everything we’d expect to see from a smartphone. However, the demand for gaming is quite high, and things like power draw become an issue with batteries that can’t keep up, or other hardware that won’t fit in that same form factor.

There’s a reason why handheld gaming devices are the size and shape they are, and for the most part, are too big, and serve as one of the primary reasons why smartphones and handheld devices remain two very separate markets.

They may simply not be needed – Another important factor is whether or not they’re actually needed, as it stands the types of games played on our mobile devices are not as complex or not as demanding, and whilst that is changing as bigger games are regularly releasing such as the potential for upcoming AAA games on mobile, the need just isn’t there yet.

Gaming Smartphones
Image from polygon

That isn’t to say interests are not changing, however, as players are calling for better hardware to support gaming habits on their mobile devices, but the developers still have some time to catch up before the hardware gets in place.

Price will need to be considered – Smartphones are already verging on being overly expensive, the latest flagships are quickly approaching $2,000 with some novelty options already surpassing that. With additional functionality and hardware, that price quickly rises to be more inclusive of these hardware changes too. The increased price makes it even more niche and may limit the possibilities for those actually looking to buy.

Time also comes into consideration with price too, for markets like the PC gamer market, hardware can become dated relatively quickly with replacements needed every few years to keep up with the latest AAA titles, consoles however are more steadily developed to stretch the lifespan out. For mobile, if gaming devices were to emerge something would need to be figured out for time purposes and how reliable the hardware could remain.

For some players, there’s certainly something of a demand for players looking for a higher-powered device for mobile gaming. Still, as of yet, that market may not be big enough for all of the hurdles the manufacturers will have to jump over, and how many pitfalls developers may run into along the way when trying to optimize for non-gaming mobile smartphones too.


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