Mobile Monday: What I’ve learnt about mobile gaming

Mobile Monday cover

I’ve been covering mobile games for a few months now, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Those things seem like a good topic for the first Mobile Monday of 2016.

Mobile games are timeless

It’s very common for older mobile titles to be picked up by new players long after their release. In fact, that’s what made it possible to write this.

This seems to be a feature that’s fairly unique to the mobile market, because mobile games have two advantages over other systems: a relatively level playing field of visual quality, and the fact that droves of new smartphone users appear every day. Because of mobile gaming’s hardware limitations, people tend to be more forgiving when it comes to a game’s aesthetic prowess, and the flocks of new users – who have no previous experience with the multitude of games available – are unable to gauge a game’s age. This means a title can quickly jump into public awareness again and again without an expensive marketing campaign.

There are so many copycats

Console and PC games often take flak for being unoriginal. However, these platforms have nothing on mobile games when it comes to lack of originality.

Clash of...That Play Store screenshot sums up the whole ordeal: one company makes a successful game, and others rush in to blatantly copy it and make a quick buck. It’s more than just Clash of X games too. A few weeks ago I discovered that there are innumerable sniper games, and it’s a sure bet that anything popular will be copied nearly identically, given a very similar name, and thrust under the nose of a market stereotyped as having a short attention span.

The reviews sections are the worst

My “esteemed” colleague Chris Kemp believes that review scores are meaningless, and nowhere is that better demonstrated than in the reviews sections of mobile games.

Bad review

Many reviews sections of games and apps are littered with one-star reviews, often for petty or irrational reasons. You’ll often see users holding a “glowing” review hostage until the developer gives in to the user’s demands. If you created a drinking game where you drank every time you read the words “I’d rate 5 stars if / but…, within minutes every one of your organs would fail.

The reviews section is often treated like customer support. They don’t offer constructive feedback, nor do they debate the game’s negatives and positives: they’re just a bitter rant. Seriously, don’t read the reviews sections. Just read Mobile Monday.

Holy heck, have you seen some of these classics?

In the ’90s, Baldur’s Gate required five CDs to install to a PC which may not even have been able to play it. Now, you can download it and play it on a device that fits in your pocket.

"Go for the nostalgia, Boo!"
“Go for the nostalgia, Boo!”

This is where mobile gaming shines: sometimes it gives you a chance to catch up on something you missed, and what can be crammed onto a mobile device is often surprising. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath first launched on the original Xbox, now it runs on my two year-old Samsung phone. I loved Knights of the Old Republic, now I can play it on the go. And being South African, I missed out on the Super Nintendo era of Final Fantasy. Until now.

The first mobile game I ever played was Snake. Some of the latest I’ve played include a god game, a first-person shooter, and a brilliant, beautiful platformer. I guess the most important thing I’ve learnt about mobile gaming is that it’s astonishing how far it’s come.