The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
Of course, the old one about video games being as important as music and movies etc is a tired old debate. Fact is, all art in any form is valid, and video games don’t have a point to prove any more.
But you will however, find the odd folk who still think that video games are just “kids stuff” and Ukie and FTI Consulting’s report earlier this week lines up as just one more bit of ammo you can beat them with. The report outlines the growth and sheer volume of ‘other applications’ where video game tech is being used and changing the game - literally.
One of my favourite applications - outlined in our feature - is the use of game engine tech (such as Unreal Engine) for the provision of ‘virtual production’ - creating fast, easy and highly convincing VFX graphics within hardware and software built for fleshing out video games.
Then, rather than relying on ‘Hollywood magic’ to green screen and superimpose your characters onto these backgrounds, you simply film your actors doing their thing in front of a giant LED screen instead. Job done.
It’s a brilliant instance of tech development lightening the load - not making something even more heavyweight or complicated but stepping in to make things simpler, easier and better. And we’ve got the fast, agile, lightweight world of modern games development to thank for it.
I’m always sceptical when any company says they are going to launch their own third-party app store, and Microsoft is no different.
In theory, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act will pave the way for Apple and Google (particularly the former) to open up their platforms and make it easy for new marketplaces to launch.
But the new regulations are unlikely to change the status quo. Consumers are stuck in their ways and locked into their ecosystems, with a preference to stick with the App Store and Google Play. There’s a reason Epic sued Google - it wants to be on Google Play. Its own Android store, awkwardly side-loaded by users, was clearly not doing enough to attract players.
Microsoft faces a frankly herculean task to get consumers onto any mobile app store for games, even if platform holders were forced to allow it.
You can also look to the state of the PC games market to see the scale of the task ahead. Steam has created a dominant position as the de facto digital storefront for PC gaming. To compete, Epic has spent well over $1 billion on exclusives and free games in an effort to gain market share, while taking just a 12% revenue share (which includes other exceptions) as another incentive to join its platform. In the face of this, Steam continues to grow.
It may make sense from a cross-platform, play anywhere perspective for Microsoft’s Game Pass service. But it will never be a direct competitor to the App Store and Google Play - it would need to attract the world’s biggest publishers, bring over billions of consumers, and all in a sector it has few ties with.
Pokémon Go’s eighth year is now well under way, and having only tried out the mega-hit mobile game for the first time this July, my main experience with the game has been its drip-feed of Scarlet and Violet content.
Inclusion of the latest Switch species makes sense from a business perspective - promoting Go players to try out the latest main series game and recent Switch players to jump onto mobile - but I won’t deny my excitement at an older title getting another chance to shine.
And of those older Switch titles it happens to be my personal favourite, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. By introducing Go fans to the pocketable monsters previously exclusive to Legends, The Pokémon Company may well find some new Switch players among its mobile ranks and see a Legends sales surge (the game is currently one of its worst selling on Switch).
At the same time, Legends fans like myself have a new motivation to get out playing Go again, searching for Hisuian Decidueye and a shiny Samurott all to the benefit of Niantic. It’s a win for everyone, really. As long as I find that shiny…