The Mobile Game Stigma


Mobile gaming is synonymous with pay-to-win. Gamers, especially in North America tend to look down on mobile games.

Even as mobile gaming experiences a revolution, it still can’t shake its stigma. The video games industry generates well over $100 billion, topping $135 billion in 2018. From 2017 to 2018, the industry’s market value experienced a 10% increase. Mobile makes up nearly half of this revenue. This massive segment and its impact on the industry is still not enough to change gamers minds. 

Mobile Gaming: A Long History

As mobile technology began to advance, especially with the introduction of the iPhone on June 29, 2007, the concept of mobile gaming began to change. Gone were the days of playing Tetris and Snake on T-9 devises. The iPhone and the competing breeds of smartphones introduced high-definition graphics, large screens, and stronger computing hardware. It took some time for the novelty of free beer-drinking apps to fade, but once they did, the classic pay-to-win mobile game began to rise from the App Store. 


Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, Words with Friends, more recently, Final Fantasy XV, Dr. Mario World, the list goes on. There are so many out there but they all share one similarity, there’s an in-game currency available for purchase. It doesn’t matter what this in-game currency unlocks, nearly all mobile games provide some kind of in-game store option. Many entice players to spend real money by stopping them behind some type of timer, making people wait to progress in the game. Others offer fun cosmetics, new levels, or employ countless other paywall strategies. 

Console and PC gamers tend to look down on mobile gaming. Some don’t even consider people that strictly play mobile, gamers. On the other hand, many people that play mobile games don’t consider themselves to be gamers, either. This interesting conundrum forces the community to look at the quality of games available for mobile devices, and the audience that chooses to play which sub-set of mobile video games. 

Technology Driving Gaming Forward, In All Forms

Mobile devices have come incredibly far since the first iPhone. Over 12 years the world has been making and improving smartphone technology. Tech has come so far, some mobile devices are capable of rendering impressive worlds and can stand up when delivering an experience like a video game. Games like PUBG, Fortnite Mobile, Diablo Immortal, as well as retro games like the original Final Fantasy games,  have found a home on people’s hand-held digital devices.


The stigma that comes along with mobile devices is a fair one. Mobile games in their current form got their start by offering this massive, smartphone owning audience access to cheap but addicting pay-to-win games. However, console and PC games have witnessed a similar shift in the market. It’s nearly impossible to find a console or PC AAA game that doesn’t include an in-game store, similar to those found in high-quality mobile games. The Games-as-a-Service model has taken over the entire video game industry, both mobile and traditional included. Console and PC gamers need to put aside their immediate disgust for the money-grabbing in-game stores in mobile games. Instead, understanding the variety of availability of mobile games is essential. 

Not every one that consistently plays games on a smartphone is a gamer, but some people that strictly play mobile games can be considered gamers. If a person enjoys playing scrabble on their mobile device or casually adds to their base in Clash of Clans, it doesn’t mean they’re gaming on their phones. This is just a fun way to kill some time online at the food store. Yet, mobile gaming and the massive advancement in mobile gaming technology has made it possible for people to get an amazing, high-quality gaming experience on their mobile devices. Looking beyond the possibility of an in-game store, there could soon be a time where a mobile game is nominated for a Game of the Year category that is usually reserved for console or PC games. It might be time to let the mobile gaming stigma fade. Technology is advancing quickly.

Article contributed by Mack from!