Bushnell: Mobile games are over

Atari founder sees Google Glass, Oculus Rift as next big thing, believes mobile market is glutted with competition

Mobile gaming is over. That's according to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, who told All Things D that the smart money is no longer going into smartphones.

"All the money's out," Bushnell said. "Do I really want to do a mobile game that's one of 300,000, where discoverability is everything? You really have to have a little more sizzle on the steak."

Bushnell explained that the companies who have succeeded in the market so far were early adopters willing to take risks. Now that they've established themselves and shown the potential for making money on mobile, more timid entrants have jumped into the market and greatly expanded the competition.

So what will be the Next Big Thing, according to the man behind the First Big Thing?

"I think the next big game opportunity is Google Glasses [sic]," Bushnell said. "If I told you all my ideas for it, I'd have to kill you. And the Oculus Rift. The game business reinvents itself every five years. The last five years have been the days of mobile gaming and shortform gaming, exemplified by Rovio with Angry Birds and Zynga with FarmVille. And that is over."

Even if those platforms don't wind up as ubiquitous as smartphones, Bushnell said he would "rather be one of 100 apps for Google Glass than one of 300,000 for iOS and Android."

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Latest comments (9)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
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Gareth Eckley Commercial Analyst 4 years ago
Misleading title, again.

His underlying point, which is that the market is saturated and no longer the development "frontier" is totally valid. If you don't have extremely deep pockets, an intelligent and hard working marketing team or a very lean development team, it's a very difficult environment to make money in.
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The guys a living legend, and on the topic of future gaming, who better to listen to then a guy who helped start it all.
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Jeremie Sinic4 years ago
Although Oculus Rift is a gaming device, I'd genuinely love to know what he's thinking about in terms of gaming on Google Glass.
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Cale Barnett Animator 4 years ago
@ Jeremie
With tech like Google Glass, we may start to see digital abstractions of non-digital games.
My mind goes to games like "I Spy", or staring competitions, where the device digitally record a win or loss, etc.
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Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital4 years ago
...and I was starting to worry that I will survive this day without reading another prophecy.

Great thing about consoles is that they do gaming perfectly. Great thing about mobile is that everybody has one and thus the space for new business models and concepts is unlimited. I am not sure where the Google Glass will stand. I can hardly see people purchasing it just for games and I can hardly see people purchasing it simply because you can't live in this world without it...
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Eric Schittulli Head of Customer Service, Aeria Games Europe4 years ago
@Jakub : That exactly what it was said about mobile 15 years ago. People were making fun of the mobile's owners in the street and thought that was just a gadget before trying it out themselves. Today it became a billion dollar industry.

To my personnal opinion, I tend to agree with Bushnell. Not on the Mobile topic but on the Augmented Reality being the next breakthrough. LED Contact lenses and EyeGlass will be mainstream in the next years. So I hope... because it's freaking exciting and I cannot wait to see both gaming, professional and day to day basis application of those !

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Schittulli on 27th March 2013 4:30pm

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Brett Caird Production Director/Founder, 5th Cell4 years ago
If you're jumping on a bandwagon, its already too late to enjoy "ground floor" opportunities. Mobile has certainly made that transition at this point.

Glass and Rift the next big thing? I agree that out of the stuff we can see they are the most interesting, but frequently the next big thing can't be seen. Either because its not widely known, or it can be in plain sight without people having realised its potential yet.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 4 years ago
...but frequently the next big thing can't be seen.
Oh, I don't know about that. I think the issue is more that the next big thing always takes longer to come than people expect, and you never really know when it's going to take off.

Cloud gaming is clearly going to happen in some form or other, but that didn't stop OnLive from basically collapsing. The Dynabook has finally more or less arrived, in the form of the iPad, but it took about thirty-five years from its invention.

I have little doubt that Google Glass will be in common use (if not already obsolete) twenty or thirty years from now. But when that short period of time will be when it moves from "impractical for consumer use" to "available for $50 from any manufacturer in China", and who will be the one taking advantage of that, I have no idea.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 29th March 2013 1:50am

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