Games have a huge variety of genres to appeal to people. You have the strategic games that needs careful consideration and planning ahead, adrenaline filled shooters that make Rambo look like a pacifist in comparison, and even simulated versions of reality to bring the fun of cooking, raising a family, and building a city from scratch to gamers.
Each of these genres have their own core fanbase, and many gamers, like myself, will hop between these genres and games. Years of honing their skills allowed developers to expand their carefully sculpted pieces of work to achieve new heights. And don’t get me wrong, not every game can be the next Silent Hill 2 or Ocarina of Time, but even universally mocked games like Superman 64 and Ride to Hell: Retribution have a team behind them working to put together something. Granted, they probably haven’t put as much effort as they could have made, but my point still stands. They make milestones for future developers to take lessons from in order to design something better. Something great and truly groundbreaking.
With that said, where does the mobile market stand in all this? It’s a market that was innately created to only kill an hour or two at the most before the player closes the game and goes along with their day. Phones aren’t even capable of sustaining the amount of power some of these games draw let alone allow developers to stretch their legs in what kind of game they can create.
That’s only one part of the mobile market that holds it back, too. You have the oversaturation of games, continuous use of in-app purchases, lack of variety between games, and the touch screen (touch screens and video games never get along and probably never will) plaguing developers who try to swim above the Flappy Bird and Clash of Clans clones and make something new. There’s not many games that actually show potential and earn their place among what developers should examine in order to evolve mobile gaming (Brave Frontier).
But there’s always one flaw in the entire mobile market that just screams out in pure agony and never lets developers start designing something fresh. It’s the one problem I always see in every mobile game that is never actually talked about, partly because everyone already knows about it and partly because nobody wants to address it.
Mobile games never end.
This is the fatal flaw that makes every developer shoot themselves in their own foot when making a mobile game. They may get insanely rich and live the rest of their lives in comfort but they never actually look at the effects of what their game has on the market. Or they do and pretend not to notice. Or think that it actually isn’t a big deal. But it is. Because when you have a game that never ends, your developers will always, always, always, find themselves stuck in a corner. They can’t remove the resources they put into the game but they also can’t continue to make money off it.
They have no choice but to hope that enough people will put enough of their money into their one game so they can make another game that also never ends. And if that game gets more money? More games. But a company that focuses on making the profit before making something original will usually make the exact same game, but with small tweaks here and there.
For example, I enjoy the game Flutter, a butterfly sanctuary simulator with great graphics and simplistic gameplay that manages time and resources extremely well. But recently the developer made a game called Splash, which is the exact same game. Only this time instead of butterflies you’re playing with fish. In short, the mobile market is basically the FIFA and Maddens of console gaming times a thousand.
I’ve never seen this brought up before, but it saddens me to see such potential that could really bring out creative people with the drive to make games, and made it far less difficult to do so compared to console and PC game development, suffocate itself. It really does have potential, too. People might scoff at Angry Birds and Candy Crush but they help bring casual people who never touch a game in their life to enjoy the world of gaming. They can explore a whole world of gaming from there, slowly but surely. The hardware has caught up in mobile to emulate older gems of gaming such as Knights of the Old Republic and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, so it isn’t impossible to see some new diamonds pop out of the rough.
The trick is going to be how the developers navigate their way out of the ocean of amateur games up into something people are going to look at and see gaming evolve before their eyes. I, for one, will continue to wade through the shallows to see if anything worthwhile shows it’s face.
What do you guys think? Will the mobile market be able to grow something interesting out of the murk? Or is it going to drown out itself as the competitors start growing and making their own mobile games?