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Mobile Mavens: The importance of cross platform

We round up industry opinions on the potential of cross platform gaming
Mobile Mavens: The importance of cross platform
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Gamers have traditionally been incredibly passionate about their favourite gaming platform. However, over the past few years, we are starting to see an even more demanding player arise…

Today's gamers want to be able to access their favourite titles no matter where they are or whatever the platform. The demand for cross platform gaming is reaching new heights with the ability to play on your PC or console and then continue the same game on your mobile fast becoming a norm.

But what does the industry think of cross platform gaming? Are they ready to embrace this new, more demanding audience, and how difficult is it to develop a smooth experience across platforms?

We asked industry experts for their take on the hot topic.

Nick Anderson

Nick Anderson

Head of Publishing at Kabam

At Kabam, we're all about breaking boundaries and embracing the future. That's why we see cross-platform as a game-changer. It's not just about giving players the freedom to choose their platform, it's about creating a seamless gaming experience that transcends devices. Our upcoming title, King Arthur: Legends Rise, is our first foray into launching a cross-platform game right out of the gate. It's been a thrilling journey, and yes, a challenging one. But hey, no great achievement comes without its hurdles, right?

One of the key challenges in cross-platform development is ensuring a consistent and engaging experience across all platforms. It's like translating a novel into different languages while keeping the essence of the story intact. Thankfully, with Unreal Engine 5, we've been able to develop simultaneously on mobile and PC with relative ease.

Working closely with our technology platform partners has been crucial in navigating this terrain. They're as invested as we are in this cross-platform vision, and their insights have been invaluable in avoiding pitfalls. One thing we've learned is that different platforms cater to different play styles. A PC gamer might settle in for a long session, while a mobile gamer might prefer quick bouts of play. Balancing these needs has been an interesting puzzle to solve.

Moreover, it's crucial to strike a balance between graphical fidelity and user experience. The differences between platforms can be vast and ensuring that each version of the game is tailor-made for the platform it's played on is paramount to its success. It's not just about looking good; it's about providing a smooth and enjoyable experience for our players, no matter where they choose to play. Looking ahead, we believe cross-platform gaming is an essential consideration for the business. It's not just about reaching more players, it's about building a community that's united, not divided, by their choice of platform. And that's a future we're excited to be part of.

Simon Platt

Simon Platt

Head of Development at Kwalee

When I think about different platforms, all I see is different audiences. Ignoring an opportunity to get your game into the hands of more, diverse players is a mistake that hurts everyone involved. As a creative team, we are excited to see what audience our games resonate with and unless we consider cross platform, we are alienating many people who could enjoy the experiences we create.

You need to be ready to compromise. Consider the platform very carefully and understand the UX and quality of life expectations that come with it. For example, there are great examples of games that have found innovative compromise between accessible mobile touch controls and an efficient PC keyboard and mouse setup.

An interesting take here is the aspect of streaming. Content creators natively picking up your game to share with their viewers is a very valuable marketing tool and is made much more likely by providing your game anywhere people can play.

There are some challenges with cross platform too such as updates, maintenance and bug fixing suddenly becomes more chaotic and splintered. You will always have the freedom to prioritise the value but managing versioning between platforms, especially if you plan to use cross play, requires a lot of strong dev management.

Qi Lu

Qi Lu

CEO & Founder at Stealth

In my opinion, the most important questions to think about before going cross platform are who is your target audience? And where can you find them most?

Getting more players is good of course but we know there's still a big difference in terms of players' type across different platforms. So it's important to know if your game has product-platform fit on the platform you intend to release. In general, many PC/console players don't play F2P casual games as much as mobile players do. So it's probably a bit hard for a traditional F2P casual game to be successful on PC/console unless the game has a unique gameplay that PC/console players will also enjoy. For PC/console games moving to mobile, it's a bit different.

First of all, there's the convenience. Almost everyone who already plays on PC/console has a smartphone. However, teams need to redesign UI/UX to make sure players have a great experience on mobile devices. It may be harder for some games, like FPS etc. Second, there's the business model.

Many PC/Console titles want to be F2P to attract more players on mobile, but not all game mechanics support a F2P monetization. Designers need to transform their original design to support F2P and that may not be easy to do well.

Overall, having a game accessible via different platforms is a great thing, but game devs probably have to consider all the above to make the decision since there's a significant cost to integrate a game on many different platforms. 

Of course, ideally we'd love to try to make our games cross platform in the future. It will help to reach more audiences and create more immersive playing experiences for players regardless of space and time.

Terry Li

Terry Li

General Manager of Games at Crunchyroll

The cross-platform model is an excellent vehicle for growing a player base - a key component of a title’s appeal is community. However, it is crucial to deliver a great experience across platforms. The advancement of mobile graphics has allowed for greater parity between platforms and made gaming experiences much more seamless visually for players. Crunchyroll Games and Perfect World aims to offer that kind of cross platform title with the upcoming One Punch Man: World - a PC title with a great experience on iOS and Android.

Right now, and moving forward, great cross platform experiences are essential for the video game industry. Players appreciate options, especially when it comes to where they get to play. Titles that deliver on that cross-platform promise are likely to have a lively, wide-spread player base, which makes stepping into a game more exciting. One of the challenges related to the cross-platform model is meeting market expectations and delivering on that feature at launch. It’s also not enough to just be cross platform, maintaining player progression is vital. When Crunchyroll Games brought The Eminence in Shadow: Master of Garden to PC and delivered on cross-play and progression, we saw a considerable number of players making use of the feature and playing across platforms.

Steve Foster

Steve Foster

Co-Founder & Development Lead at Xisle Games Limited

Cross-platform gaming represents a significant development in the games industry. It not only enhances the player experience but also expands audience reach for developers. Especially in free-to-play games, and more so in multiplayer ones, players increasingly expect to be able to play with friends across different platforms and switch platforms seamlessly themselves. As such, it's critical for developers to consider cross-platform support from the outset of the development process.

Creating a functioning build for most platforms is straightforward with game engines like Unity and Unreal. However, ensuring that everything from payment processing and login systems to leaderboards and achievements works seamlessly across multiple platforms can be a daunting task, particularly for smaller developers. When you factor in support issues like refunds and account recovery, the complexity increases.

While the temptation to stick to a single platform for simplicity's sake is understandable, I believe that the potential benefits of cross-platform gaming are too significant to ignore. It can yield dividends in terms of player engagement, game visibility, and ultimately, revenue.

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