From the lack of crowds and unassuming placement at the game industry’s largest trade show, it’s hard to believe that mobile gaming is the business’s fastest growing segment and its largest source of digital revenue. Last year, Re/code says, smartphone and tablet games generated $3 billion in U.S. sales. And while sales of packaged console games steadily declined until 2013–and then only rose 2 percent–mobile gaming revenue rose 27 percent globally last year.
Rich Taylor, a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association, said E3 provides “an evolving platform” and that mobile’s continued rise will be reflected in the convention’s booth placement when the time is right.
For their part, mobile developers weren’t complaining about their out-of-the-way digs. Rather than compete with the industry’s heavy hitters—not to mention the exhibit floor’s noise—a number of them went off-site to host demos and receptions. “The thing that I love about mobile and tablet gaming is the intimacy,” said Barry Dorf, Vice President of Partnerships for Japanese developer DeNA. “The games don’t project well on a 50-by-25-foot screen. It’s not really how they’re made.”
None of this means studios aren’t paying attention to mobile, though. “E3 is definitely a console-driven event, but behind the scenes and around the convention center a lot of the talk is about mobile,” Walter Driver, CEO of mobile game publisher Scopely, told Re/code. “There’s a lot of chatter, but it’s less visible to someone walking through [the hallways], because there’s no massive installation, no pointing arrows saying, ‘People’s attentions are shifting to mobile.”
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