Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer reportedly compared the Xbox consoles to Polaroid and its failure to keep up with digital photography. Spencer, in an email from 2019, argued that the Xbox console market is not growing as quickly as the mobile gaming market, and that Xbox could eventually become obsolete if it does not adapt to the changing landscape.
Spencer wrote that “we are exactly like Polaroid” in that the core gaming market is not growing as quickly as the mobile gaming market. Spencer also said that it was important for Xbox to have a mobile gaming strategy.
There are a number of reasons why Spencer may be concerned about the future of Xbox consoles. First, the cost of entry into the console market is high. A new Xbox console can cost hundreds of dollars, which can be a barrier to entry for many people.
Second, the mobile gaming market is much larger than the console market. Last year, in 2022 the global mobile gaming market was worth ~$139 billion, while the global console gaming market was worth ~$51 billion.
Moreover, we all know how mobile gaming is more accessible than console gaming. Anyone with a smartphone can play mobile games, while only people with a console can play console games, but the sad part is how developers are not making a lot of new games for this platform (more on that later).
The mobile gaming industry is estimated to grow by 35.65% from 2021 to 2024. The $152.50 billion estimated mobile gaming market value for 2022 is an increase of $12.8 billion, or 9.16%, from 2021. It is estimated to generate $189.50 billion by 2024.Mobile Game Industry Revenue | bankmycell
Of course, Spencer is not the only one who is concerned about the future of Xbox consoles. In recent years, there has been a growing trend of people moving away from consoles and towards mobile gaming. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as mobile gaming becomes more sophisticated, but for now the main concern is the availability of new games on the platform.
Take Subway Surfers, for instance. The game is over 11 years old, built on the same core concept, and is still the most downloaded game last year. Its true that we have the likes of Stumble Guys that have just recently garnered a lot of attention, but most of the games on the list aren’t new additions.
Just this year, with the SD 8 Gen2 and Dimensity 9200 chipsets, we were introduced to the capability of ray-tracing on phones, but how many developers do you think would even think of going that route considering the minority of people with phones running these chipsets.
As for a console, you have a set benchmark to make a game for. For phones, you don’t have that luxury, but still, the industry continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. This goes to show how much potential the company truly has why Microsoft made King a baseline for acquiring AB.
It remains to be seen whether Xbox consoles will eventually become obsolete. However, Spencer’s comments suggest that Microsoft is taking the threat of mobile gaming seriously. The company is investing heavily in mobile gaming, and it is likely to continue to do so in the future.
Only time will tell whether Xbox consoles will have a long-term future. However, Spencer’s comments suggest that Microsoft is preparing for a future in which mobile gaming is the dominant form of gaming.