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Mobile Gaming

This weekend I downloaded, and loaded up a game I told a company I would review. Through playing it, and getting little bursts of joy out of it, the inspiration began to tug on me a little bit, on how I should, for a moment, talk about mobile gaming as a blog post!

While I was playing this game, which I am still reviewing (my first!), I saw some things I really enjoyed, and some things that really annoyed me. While normally I do blog pieces on experiences, and this one will be just like that – this piece will be more about what I look for in mobile gaming, and maybe a conversation starter for anyone out there looking to talk about mobile gaming.

Mobile gaming to me, personally, should be a game I can pick up, play in short bursts, and put down. I do not look for full gaming experiences on my cellphone, and if I wanted to play a full feature-length game, I would engage it on my console, or PC. So to me, playing Final Fantasy VII on the go isn’t desirable. So let’s dig into what I’m looking for specifically in a mobile game.

When we think of portability as a gamer, we look at a lot of different aspects, but when I talk about it, I am speaking simply of one thing: I want to be able to turn my screen off, or close said game, and not lose position, connection, or progress on what I am currently doing. Part of being a Busy Gamer is, well, being very busy – and the most frustrating thing for me, is a single player experience game, that requires a constant connection, or “activated” screen. The PlayStation Vita (Damn you Sony) is quite possibly the best portable console I have ever owned, not for its’ graphics, or awesome games, but for the simple fact you can turn the screen off, then turn it back on, and not only does it save the battery (Seriously this thing lasts for months in sleep mode), but it picks up right where I left off before I cut the screen off.


When we talk about a muted ad experience, I am saying I don’t want a noisy video ad popping up while I’m playing, or interrupting my immersion. I get it – ADs are part of what supports the developers in their endeavors to profit from their labored creations, but let’s be clear on something here, and I’m sure a lot of my readers here are going to agree with me: Your ads need to be in a tasteful location, they need to not obstruct the “playing” experience, and they need to not jar your immersion. Put your ADs on the menus, somewhere away from my clickable space, or insert your AD tastefully on loading screens – but for the love of all that is holy, I do not want to see a full screen video ad after every menu click, or screen transition. You are not doing your game any favors, and as a developer I would hope you would respect your customers more than that.

While I think notifications are okay, as a developer, you should make them less intrusive. If you utilize an energy system, and this system regenerates every 5 – 10 minutes, I do not need a damn notification noise, pop-up header, or interruption telling me to “Get back in here, you can do one more move for 15 more minutes!”  

I’m a blogger, with big dreams, hopes, and wishes. One day I want to make money doing what I love, and that’s to write, game, and be a dad. But make no mistake, I’m not going to shove paying me down your throat, and you wont see giant pop-ups telling you to buy this, or that. Gaming is no exception to this rule, and if your mobile game is free-to-play, but I need to pay to actually progress at any point, you’ve dropped the ball. Developers are becoming too greedy, this is leaking into their habits when it comes to their games. Far too often I am seeing perfectly good mechanics segmented off so a pay-feature can be utilized to experience it. If your game is good, and a lot of games out there are perfectly good, people will happily pay to support your game. A smart business plan is to create an awesome product, put it out, then allow consumers to pay for cosmetics, or “cool things” to flair themselves. I fully support “Downloadable Content” expansions to appropriate titles, given it is a unique, totally new experience, and not a rehashed, recycled thing. 

Continuing with this, is locking normal mechanics behind paywalls, and literally abusing people, and their lack of self control. As a human being, and a developer, we need to make something as simple as a “respawn” or a “retry” free. Once again, I understand, developers need to make a living too, but stop abusing the human condition.

I know there are full, feature length games out there. There are games that mimic hits such as “League of Legends” (Arena of Valor for those that don’t know), and there are actual, full-length RPG experiences out there. But let me reiterate, I want a mobile game to be something I can load up, quickly, efficiently, experience in 5-10 minutes, then put down. I like games that take this “burstability” and create a prolonged over-arching experience. Let me explain – as an example: I would love a game where I could have a customized RPG character, and create a party. The “burstability” could be where I pick it up and explore a dungeon in short 10 minute bursts. Think Legend of Grimrock, but when I cut off my phone or app, it doesn’t restart the game, or lose progress, it goes right back to where I left off. Continuous stat tracking  keeps a large, over-arching theme of progress.

Utilizing my previous example, my ideal game would allow me to make the choice to engage in dialogue with other players in a room/chat room experience. I would want to be able to form a quick, four man party with other players, and blast through a dungeon experience in 5-10 minute bursts. Each character would control their actions with a very quick time limit to keep things fast. The key here is this feature needs to be a choice, as only I would know if I had the available time to engage in this, as it’s a mobile game.

Conclusion

As my expectations, and what I want out of a game are a personal tailored experience, I wanted to close this in a more open-ended dialogue. Mobile gaming is evolving, as money continues to pour into the space, it is becoming a force to reckoned with. Gaming companies are turning to mobile as a major platform now as almost the whole population has a smartphone at this point. Games like Diablo: Immortal, and Lineage 2: Revolution come to mind, as trying to take that next step into the space. What do you want out of a mobile game? What mobile games do you play? How do you feel about ADs or monetisation? 

Until next time,
TBG

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