They divide the gaming world – many people love them, even more hate their guts. It’s an issue that can make the most chilled gamer froth at the mouth in anger.
No, I’m not talking about the Need for Speed series.
Mobile games are one of the biggest controversies of the industry. Online arguments rage, even as I write this, about how they’re ruining gaming as we know it.
However the truth is the quick and convenient nature of them appeals to a lot of people. Established games are getting millions of mobile downloads (50 million for PUBG in the summer of 2019 alone) and there are even mobile gaming award ceremonies.
But what is it about smartphone games that infuriates people? Why would some gamers rather set their favourite video game on fire than play on their mobile?
In this article, we’re going to look a little deeper into the growing phenomenon of gaming-on-the-go and why they get some people so mad.
No buttons, No glory
Games like Fortnite have had no problem transferring their quick playing speed and addictive nature between formats.
However, many gamers say that the smartphone format removes the game-playing element from the equation. This forms the basis of a lot of online criticism, perhaps justifiably.
For one thing, the controls are clunky. Without a keyboard or even a joystick, the ability to smoothly move around within a game is restricted. Take Call of Duty for instance, one of the joys of the game is getting your soldier to do several things at once, something that is impossible on a touchscreen which isn’t designed to cope with this type of action-RPG game. ‘No buttons no glory’, as many gamers say.
One solution could be the advancement of Bluetooth controllers: if developers put their mind to this then gameplay would be greatly enhanced. It could also signal the start of a mobile gaming revolution.
The last few years have seen some significant upgrades to mobile gaming graphics. Many people now rate them as on a par with late PS2/early PS3 games, especially with the likes of Asphalt 9: Legends and Chaos Rings 3.
It’s pretty impressive progress when you consider where we were ten, or even five, years ago.
This isn’t enough for self-styled ‘serious gamers’ though, who don’t see any reason to leave their PC or console for a lesser visual experience. The convenience of playing on a handheld device in public comes a poor second to the thrill of being immersed in an uber-realistic world.
It’s hard to see this changing in the future. While mobile games will continue to develop, so will their video counterparts – probably at an even faster rate.
Mobile devices will always be restricted by their relative lack of power – after all, they’re not designed solely for game-playing like consoles are plus they lack the processing power of PCs.
As mentioned, the development of Bluetooth controllers could be the start of something big for smartphone games. But there’s one thing that could get in its way – ads.
For many gamers, the industry’s cardinal sin is its lust for making money. From sky-high prices for new games to poorly-made sequels designed to bleed yet more money from consumers, they hate the idea that some rich dudes are exploiting their passion to make a quick buck.
Unfortunately, anyone who’s played a mobile game for more than ten minutes will have been interrupted by some form of money-making ploy. It could be having to pay extra for in-game items (a cost that can quickly accumulate) or ads that take you to other sites: they’re everywhere.
The worst culprits for this are the social casinos which offer players the chance to play casino games for free. When you run out of chips, you have to buy more to continue playing so, while you can never win money, you CAN spend a lot of it. You might as well play free online casino games that don’t demand money from you when you lose.
As long as mobile games continue this money-grabbing, the hate will keep coming from gamers. However, it’s clearly profitable and the very nature of these businesses means they’ll continue to want a slice of the pie.
A consequence of filling games with monetary incentives is that kids are often on the receiving end.
We all know that children are less able to control their impulses and have little understanding of the value of money. They see the pay-to-win lootboxes on Shadow of War and they want them – it’s going to help them win!
Also, if their favourite game is telling them to buy more items then, chances are, they’ll want to do it.
It’s easy to dismiss this as being overly dramatic but think of the effect this could have on a child’s mindset. (Parent’s) money = advancement: skill isn’t so important. Do we want kids growing up thinking this is the norm?
Also, it’s easy to lose track of money spent on these gimmicks, which can add up to a pretty hefty bill before we know it.
It’s just not cool
Maybe, after all the talk of the technical limitations of portable games, it all just boils down to one thing. They just ain’t cool enough.
A lot of gamers, when they think about the typical phone player, picture a Mom playing Candy Crush or a newbie teenager trying out Fortnite for the first time. Whether this is a stereotype or not, it’s an image that easily sticks in the mind.
After all, gamers have spent a lot of time honing their skills on all types of games, consoles and PCs – they see a mobile gamer as an intruder, as someone who doesn’t take their passion seriously.
While this might appear elitist, it doesn’t mean gamers have to like or buy mobile games- they’re entitled to their opinions, after all.
Smartphone games will continue to evolve in all the areas we’ve looked at in this article, but they’ll always be second best in some gamers’ eyes. That’s life.