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Opinion: I'm a greedy mobile gamer, and I'm not sure I like it

Opinion: I'm a greedy mobile gamer, and I'm not sure I like it

Over the past couple of years – even before I landed a job at Pocket Gamer towers - I've found myself playing more and more mobile games.

It's a move that perhaps didn't even come about voluntarily, but rather, out of some kind of subconscious necessity.

You see, I've been doing an obscene amount of traveling lately, and I mean that in every sense of the word. My daily commute to University can easily consume three to fours hours of my day - and that's when the trains aren't delayed.

What better way to kill that time then, than to expand my mobile gaming knowledge and indulge in something of a mammoth mobile gaming session? What a great way to discover, and enjoy, some great games, right?

Well, no, not quite.

One night stands

Unfortunately, out of all of the games that I've tried, none of them have cemented their place on my ever expanding springboard.

What usually happens is, I pour a good few hours into each game - if it's particularly good, that is - before swiftly putting it out of its misery and searching for my next victim.

The fact that the App Store has so much choice - a preposterously large amount of games to sift through and discover, in fact - means that I'm never content to find a game that I enjoy and devote a substantial amount of time to it.

Instead I'll always be in search of that next hidden gem, the next game that will enthrall me at first, before quickly losing out to my unquenchable desire for a new fling, and being cast aside - if that sounds like the equivalent of having a one night stand with an app, that's because it is.

I'm not just talking about games such as Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, or Tiny Wings, either. For me, said games have all long been and gone, thoug I'd argue that none of them are designed to completely dominate my play time in the first place – they're more the pick-up-when-you-have-a-spare-five-minutes type affairs.

A classic, but why am I not playing it any more?

No, what concerns me is that, even when I'm confronted with games that offered more of a 'console' experience – by that I mean the kind of games that require a true investment of time - I've still found myself unable to commit.

I've brushed aside the Infinity Blade trilogy, left Limbo in limbo, and abandoned the world of Bastion to its fate.

A mobile matter

It's a problem I've found that, for me at least, is unique to the mobile device.

When I sit down to play a console game that, by and large, I've stumped up £40 for, I know I'm committed. I owe it to the money that's been drained from my bank account to give whatever the disc in question is a fair go, if only to justify the purchase to my bank manager.

And this is where I have to admit something that, as a mobile games journalist, might seem a little curious: even now, console gaming brings with it an aura of importance that I, like many gamers, make a habit of falling for.

These games are pitched as 'cinematic', 'emotional', and 'artistic' experiences that warrant taking over your life, even if many of them prove to be duds in the long term.

Part of this stems for the fact, of course, that there are far less games on console for all of us to sample. On iOS alone, the number of new games out at the end of every week likely eclipses the number of new titles that roll out on Xbox 360 and PS3 in an entire quarter.

Cost is also an issue. On mobile, I could try out every single one of those new games (if there were enough hours in the day) and, discounting in-app purchases, I'd still have change left in my wallet. On consoles, the £40+ price point remains firmly in charge.

The end result is, I have to be especially selective about which games I take a punt on.

What's more, the big console games are almost always smothered in promotion and coverage from every games website on the internet.

Now or never

Ubisoft, for instance, began advertising Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on television back in March – a whopping eight months before the game hit the shelves.

Console gamers mark out future purchases long in advance and – even if the game itself ends up letting them down – they're inclined to give them a fair whack of playtime before they discount them altogether.

When did you decide to buy Black Flag?

Mobile gamers are entirely different beast. While there's the odd title earmarked by the games press months before release – The Drowning the most prominent example of late, for all the good it did it – the vast majority of purchase decisions are made within the app stores themselves.

People download mobile games in an instant, often based on little more than the strength of their icon, description, screenshots or user reviews.

Even the best writers at Pocket Gamer would admit that a large portion of games simply sneak up on us. Where the hell did Activision's recent Call of Duty release on iOS come from, for instance?

The downside of mobile's 'here today, gone tomorrow' approach, however, is that gamers don't hesitate from closing an app down before uninstalling it altogether if the game in question doesn't grab them within seconds.

Mobile gamers are impatient and greedy, and that's an inescapable trait that, as an industry, we simply don't acknowledge anywhere near enough.

When more is less

It's hard to see this changing, too.

There are nearly 1 million apps on Apple's App Store, whilst games on Google Play already exceed that number. Even the likes of Windows Phone and – dare I say it – BlackBerry 10 have a respectable number of games that outweigh the range of console titles you'll find on the shelves at your local GAME or GameStop.

Like Augustus Gloop when confronted with a certain chocolate factory, as a mobile gamer I've become a creature of pure unashamed gluttony: whimsically downloading new games whenever the mood strikes, purely because it's easy, cheap, and provides instant gratification.

And, if your game dares to hold said gratification back for a second longer than I'd like, I won't flinch from banishing it from my device for good.

Sure, I might technically be playing a greater variety of games on my mobile devices than I do on console, but in reality I'm simply downloading more and playing less.

Is this good? As a consumer, it's hard to argue that an abundance of choice is a bad thing.

However, for you guys – the developers, the publishers, the people's whose livelihoods depend on holding the attention of people like me for more than a few minutes – tolerating the greed and the gluttony that's part and parcel of the mobile gaming scene really can't be all that much fun at all.

Chris Kerr is from Preston in the UK and is PocketGamer.biz's new staff writer.

Staff Writer

What do you call someone who has an unhealthy obsession with video games and Sean Bean? That'd be a 'Chris Kerr'. Chris is one of those deluded souls who actually believes that one day Sean Bean will survive a movie. Poor guy.

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