Mobile Releases


The one gaming platform which appears to be gaining traction, at least in terms of sheer RPG releases, is mobile. The platform has always been strongly supported in Japan, but audiences didn't really embrace the idea of playing RPGs on their phones until the advent of smartphones. While 2009 might have been a weak year for console releases, it hailed the entrance of smartphone RPGs and demonstrated a massive shift in the trajectory of the mobile space.

Where most mobile devices are inhibited by comparatively weak technical specifications, there aren't many forays into mobile MMORPGs, western RPGs, and tactical RPGs. That said, most mobile devices offer an equal amount of action RPGs and JRPGs, as well as a fair amount of dungeon drawlers. RPG game length was a notable trend, however. It would appear that many of the games that are not ported to the mobile platform are designed with less completion time in mind. Sometimes, developers even go so far as to break JRPG releases into episodic content.

Year-over-year, it would appear that almost every subgenre is on the rise in terms of release frequency. While not every subgenre of RPG is well represented, it's clear that the future will hold a lot of RPG variety for mobile devices.

Because of the stranglehold of these smartphones on the marketplace, traditional cell phones (or "dumb phones" as some affectionately refer to them) have become somewhat obsolete — leading to a sharp decline in RPG releases for these devices. RPG release trajectory is looking strong for the mobile platform moving forward, though. Because development costs are much lower than those of current generation portable systems (in this case, the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS) and the install base is much higher, it makes sense that development of some RPGs be moved to this platform. RPGamers on this platform also benefit from relatively low game costs, worldwide availability, and a tremendously strong indie market. Looking at the dominant OSs, iOS is currently ahead of Android in terms of sheer releases, and based on the high profitability of the App Store compared to Google Play it looks like things will stay that way.

Like other platforms, there appears to be a number of mobile RPGs that have never made it to Western audiences. However, it should be noted that a majority of those are from the days when mobile RPGaming only occured in Japan. Since their advent in 2009, iOS and Android devices have boasted catalogues where 90-95% of releases were available worldwide.


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