With iOS and Android gaming maturing, is it time for an attitude change?
A Quick bit of History
On June 29th 2007 Apple released their first iPhone, a phone with almost no buttons and very solid internet functions. While I wouldn’t say the 2007 iPhone set the world on fire, by the time the iPhone 4 released in 2010 everyone and their mum and nan had an iOS device of some sort.
During the start of the 2010’s, we had the rise of the 69p app. There were 100’s of them, you had Angry Birds, Doodle Jump and countless puzzle games, starting with crappy onscreen buttons before moving on to more intuitive controls built around the hardware. Then a couple of years after that we got the popular free to play (f2p) model and it was a pretty awful time for mobile games in general. Early f2p apps would absolutely rinse the player of cash if they wanted any hope of success.
All this has happened since around 2009-2010, and while there is a lot of estimations of the time frames there, I am sure you can appreciate mobile gaming has come a very long way in a very short period of time. There has been a lot of attention on mobile gaming recently, with the massive success of Pokemon Go and bigger publishers putting much more time and money in to producing great mobile games.
At the forefront of this effort, is Japanese developer/publisher Square Enix. Square have ported most of their acclaimed Final Fantasy series on to mobile platforms, they have stripped back and redesigned some of their biggest franchises (Hitman and Tomb Raider) to work on mobile devices. The Dragon Quest series which is very popular overseas is also mostly ported to mobile devices and Square are now producing games specifically for the mobile market.
The “hardcore” crowd have not yet taken to mobile gaming as a whole. While it is very popular with the general public, the dedicated console and PC gamers are not so quick to jump on board the iOS and Android offerings. A quick trip to the Youtube comment section of a mobile game trailer, any online message boards or even talking to some hardcore gamers directly you will see the distaste they have for mobile gaming. While I am generalising here, the usual complaints you see about mobile games from the hardcore crowd are as follows:
“It is not a real video game”
“It doesn’t have buttons, touch screen controls are crap”
“I don’t want to put loads of cash in to a f2p game”
I personally don’t understand this mentality, in writing this I hoped to make some sense of it. If a game appears on mobile, it is still a game. Is it not a game because I can carry it in my pocket? Does that mean that the Game Boy or Nintendo DS do not have any real games? Is it not a game because it is on my mobile phone, which isn’t a games console? Where does that leave PC games, as my PC is not a games console either, I use it primarily to work. To reiterate what I was saying before, Square has been porting their games to mobile devices, one of which is industry favourite Final Fantasy VII. Does this mean that Final Fantasy VII is no longer a game? It is a completely redundant comment, but the one I see online most often.
Your mobile device probably doesn’t have many buttons. Early mobile games used to lean on unresponsive touchscreen d-pads and buttons but this has changed. Mobile games are designed with the interface in mind now, the ones that do use virtual buttons are far better than they were 5 years ago. The on trend Pokemon Go uses your phones GPS as it’s main input, you couldn’t do that on your Xbox or your PC. Clash Royale is an RTS that uses the touch screen to move the units around, and the much lauded Hearthstone uses the touch screen to place cards.
The Free to Play Elephant in the Room
Finally we come to the f2p element, a huge part of mobile gaming. There are complete experiences you can buy for a one off price for your mobile device, but you can’t ignore the massive amounts of f2p games available on iOS and Android. There is a lot of shit f2p games too, for every great title like the aforementioned Hearthstone there is 100 War of Duty: Call of Honor’s typical cash grabbing social game.
With all the top rated f2p games including League of Legends, DOTA2 and Team Fortress 2 you don’t have to spend any money at all. The game does not force you to spend money, if you are having fun with the game and want to pay to get ahead, then more power to you. I used to play Marvel Puzzle Quest on my commute everyday, I managed to collect the 200 consecutive day reward. I bought one pack of gems, it was about £4. I didn’t have to, I felt like I should throw some money to the developer for keeping me entertained for the best part of a year.
So, mobile gaming looks better than it ever has done. It is accessible and can be played on the device you carry around with you everyday. Even Nintendo has broken their first party licensing rule to bring their games to mobile. There is no excuse to rob yourselves of these experiences, they are mostly free after all and you might even have fun.
I don’t play a lot of mobile games, I much prefer the experience of playing on a big screen with friends. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the idea of playing mobile games either. If you’ve had a change of heart about mobile gaming or would like to get started, head over to Touch Arcade to see what is available on your device. In the meantime here is trailer for Mobius Final Fantasy, a console quality RPG for your phone from Square, which is releasing August 3rd. I will be checking it out for sure, might even write impressions if I’m feeling cheeky.