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PocketGamer.biz's Matthew Forde celebrates the revival of premium mobile games

A breath of fresh air
PocketGamer.biz's Matthew Forde celebrates the revival of premium mobile games
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As 2019 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have dominated the last 12 months in mobile gaming.

As such, we've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2020.

  • Matthew Forde is a staff writer at PocketGamer.biz

PocketGamer.biz: What do you think was the biggest news or event for the mobile games industry in 2019?

Matthew Forde: Undoubtedly, I think Apple Arcade has been far and away the biggest shift in the industry. It’s crossed over into general games media, becoming a real talking point for many non-traditional mobile game folks and introduced lots to the platform who wouldn’t have found themselves there otherwise.

As someone that prefers premium, the wealth of games by signing up for the subscription has been like a breath of fresh air. From the off, there’s been a great selection of titles to explore and with 100 exclusives promised to arrive on Apple Arcade, it’s hard not to be excited.

However, it can be a little concerning thinking about how the industry will adapt. Indies that get through the door can make a killing financially but those that are left out may struggle more than ever.

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Streaming is another topic that has to be touched upon. The development surrounding Project xCloud and Stadia have been fascinating to watch. In complete opposites, Microsoft seems to be going from strength to strength while Google looks to have fumbled early out of the gates.

When big-name titles are arriving day and date with other competitors, then Stadia becomes a real viable option for those that have the internet capability. Teething issues are expected, yes. But how long are people willing to give the technology the benefit of the doubt? 2020 will be pivotal for the latter, seeing if the firm can change the narrative before it’s too late (if it’s not already).

Which mobile games have you most played/enjoyed during 2019?

Throughout 2019 I’ve played more mobile games than ever before, delving back into the last decade to further my knowledge as well as checking out the hottest releases. As stated, Apple Arcade has been incredible for finding quality experiences, with story-driven games, in particular, working best to my tastes.

“As someone that prefers premium, the wealth of games by signing up for the subscription has been like a breath of fresh air.”
Matthew Forde

Saying that, Sayonara Wild Hearts from Simogo has not left me since completion (twice). Seriously, the soundtrack is still part of my Spotify playlist and I’ve even looked into picking up the vinyl. The arcade racer deals with heartbreak in a colourful, high-action fashion leaping from motorbikes to skateboards to stags all under two hours of bliss. It’s stunning on mobile and was a beauty to christen my new iPhone XR with.

A shout out must be given to Chance Agency’s Neo Cab, which has stood out as one of the year’s unsung heroes and is something I’m determined to complete before the year ends.

Next to that, it’s impossible for me not to praise the continued work of Niantic that arguably has given Pokémon Go its best year in content to date. Though I didn’t get chance to play as much as I’d have liked over the past 12 months, it’s always something I want to jump back into and immediately I’m always amazed by the number of updates given.

Honourable mentions: Frag Pro Shooter, Series: Your Story Universe, Kids and Pokemon Masters

What do you think will be the biggest trends in 2020?

It’s an interesting question. Battle royale has dominated the conversation for quite some time now, so what’s the next genre to take over?

I’m curious to see how many ‘Auto Chess’ games infiltrate the industry. It’s clearly not as accessible as battle royale but is still something that could potentially do big numbers.

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Subscriptions services in the mobile space will expand further, alongside the introduction of 5G exploding onto the market. This, in theory, should help with cloud technologies and streaming but I’m still expecting the space to be very trial and error at least for the next couple of years. Overall it's an exciting place and the quality of mobile games are only on the rise.

If you had one New Year's Resolution for the mobile game industry, what would it be?

From a consumer perspective and in an ideal world, it would be nice if the industry took a break to let everyone catch up on their backlogs - similar to China’s game freeze but without the repercussions.

Realistically, it would be great to see more story-driven premium content from developers that are willing to place value on their work and stick by it.

Sadly, I can’t see this happening. Free-to-play is so dominant and will only continue to grow so in retrospect I hope more experimentation with models is sought out and creators’ visions are not stifled through monetisation options. It’s a huge, bustling, busy market but quality still shines through.

You can check out all our 2019 in Review articles here