One of the standout features in gaming which has taken off in the age of internet gaming is the concept of game achievements. Whether through the achievement systems in Microsoft’s Xbox (introduced in 2005), or the trophy system utilized by the PlayStation Network (introduced in 2008), these all share a common goal – to let others know where your gaming journey has taken you. Maybe you took down an especially tricky boss, or 100%ed a game which you especially loved – these systems let others know not only what you like, but where you can excel. Some of us (this writer included) thought this system would end up as a flash in the pan, but time has shown us just how wrong we were.
Another area of often unexpected attention and growth is that of the mobile gaming market. Far from the simple snakes and brick-games where they originated, mobile gaming has now grown to a level where it draws in billions annually, with almost 23 billion euros expected in 2018 alone. How is it that these systems have integrated so far, how does this compare to prior efforts, and what issues stand in the way of the adoption of these systems?
How Far We Have Come
In some form, achievements have been a part of gaming since their inception. The concept of high scores was a prime example of this, where local arcades could have their best compete against each other for the greatest glory and cred. As these slowly died out, and online connections became standard, it became possible to create national or international leaderboards like those at GameBattles, where we could directly compare our achievements against the world. Over time, this continued to evolve into what we currently think of as the modern achievement system. This expanded beyond the limitations of the old in many ways, from a focus on specific scores to a greater general focus on completed acts and events.
As gaming overtook even films in terms of revenue, other industries began to look towards capitalizing on the modern gaming ideas into their own businesses. One of the fastest in this regard was the online gambling industry, as they had consistently grown to the point where the lines were blurred between them and traditional video games. As Betway Casino reports, traditional video games and apps use achievements and missions to give players better weapons and unlock higher levels. Online casinos have mirrored this thrill of achievement by hitting certain targets which can result in cash prizes, free spins, or a wide variety of other unlockables.
As the world of mobile gaming slowly caught up, and then evolved into something altogether new, the issue which arose became one of choice. The best way of looking at this is to examine the greater environments which made these achievement systems possible. All PlayStation games had to be given the go-ahead by Sony, so these achievements were strictly managed, as was the case with the Xbox achievements. Even casinos manage this, as they operate within contained systems. The mobile gaming market, however, is far more disconnected and with lower barriers to entry.
One thing which these different mediums do share is their overall growth in terms of both popularity and profit. In the year 2000, the video game industry was already an established force, bringing in a cool $7.98 billion in revenue. By the year 2017, this had risen to an even cooler $108.9 billion. As the mobile game market was basically non-existent at the turn of the millennium, the industry took a little longer to take off. First breaking a worth of a billion euros in 2008, the market exploded to where it is now worth €97.6 billion. While this exponential growth obviously cannot continue forever, it does mark the potential to easily overtake that of the traditional video game market.
Cooperation, and Retrospection
While Google does offer a type of achievement system for its Play Store, this is often underutilized and usually rather bland compared to the high standards set by other giants of the industry. While these achievements will likely never be strictly necessary, the advantages they offer in terms of social engagement and building a cohesive environment is a profoundly positive force on the health of the industry as a whole, and as such is absolutely an avenue worth pursuing. We fully expect the future of the mobile gaming industry will better associate with these systems as it becomes better for gaming overall, but not before the existing issues are addressed.
The first of these are the games which already exist, which have no form of achievement system. While it is often possible to go back and modify these games to include such systems, this also requires the will and means of the developers, who might have the money, or might have moved onto other projects. The second major issue is the simply non-standard nature of the mobile gaming infrastructure. Understanding what achievements need to be put in can be difficult for those unfamiliar with the system, and there being no established framework means this could easily be ignored, abused, or misinterpreted.
Looking at the top games on the Google Play Store shows us that there is a greater emphasis placed on modern mobile game achievement and improved gaming devices, such as the upcoming Galaxy Note 9, than ever in the past. While this in itself is not necessarily indicative of the future path, it does seem to indicate the greater direction of the overall industry. Combine this with developments like the ongoing effort to standardize many aspects of software with products like Google’s ARCore, and we suspect that the trajectory of mobile gaming is one which leads to a great emphasis on achievement. While perhaps not always the case, especially with smaller indie games, we have no doubt that the future is one with a greater emphasis on achievements – just give it some time.
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