Mobile Mavens

The Mobile Gaming Mavens on mobile's move on 'console quality' gaming

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The Mobile Gaming Mavens on mobile's move on 'console quality' gaming

The Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

Last week saw PopCap publish a mobile gaming habits surveypurporting that, rather than 'snacking' on games while on the bus or popping to the loo, gamers take on most mobile titles while sat on the sofa – the traditional domain of the console gamer.

So, we asked the Mavens:

Should such insight change the way mobile developers approach the design of mobile games, and are we moving towards a time when mobile platforms can adequately play host to larger, console-like adventures?


David Helgason Founder/CEO Unity Technologies

It's been commonly spoken of for a while that iOS games tend to get played in hour-long sessions while sat down on various furnitures in people's homes: I find myself playing in couches and on chair and in bed.

In fact too many games don't play well in scenarios where one can't be sure of a fairly environment where you're not disturbed.

Oh, and regarding this weeks question: duh, of course!

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

We've known about the sofa surfing phenomena since 2003, but I believe that its quite easy to misunderstand the implications.

Where a player chooses to use their content will be a personal choice, but the mode of use of the device is one where you may be interrupted at any point. The key is that if we design games for mobile so they can only be played continuously - i.e. over a long session - we limited the replay attraction of the game.

In the freemium model, that's not going to be a good thing.

At Three we used the term 'Digital Dimsum' to describe the way we consume mobile content, small packets of delicious entertainment that we can continue to order uninterupted at a pace of our choosing, with little risk of waste. And, also, easily shared.

I think that approach to content remains valid to this day... perhaps now more than ever

Does that mean I can't have a narrative game? Of course we can - and should - but the designer must always be aware that the player may have to stop playing at any time, and know what will motivate them to pick up the game again!

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative

I actually play my iPad and iPhone on the couch or bed and block out a bunch of time.

My wife does the same - she is a huge Angry Birds fan and will spend hours playing it while watching television or relaxing at night.

I totally get the point that many people play games as a distraction while waiting on the bus, or before a movie is going to start, but that doesn’t mean that every game needs to provide one minute increments of play.

If you are on the bus, pull out Angry Birds. If you are relaxing at the weekend, pull out an RPG and immerse yourself for a couple hours. We aren’t dependent on carts anymore, so players can carry more than one game around with them wherever they go.

Another thing to note is that there is a difference between what the mobile phone game industry thinks of as a mobile game and what Nintendo and Sony think of as a mobile game.

Look at games for the Game Boy, DS, 3DS, and Vita. Games on these platforms provide way more game play and more immersive experiences than a typical iPhone game, and they figured out the riding on the bus problem as well. All you have to do is save the player’s state. Who knew?

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Ideas Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

But the thing is, it's not an either-or situation.

We know that people play mobile games in a range of situations, and it makes sense that as they become more immersive or of higher quality, people will play them at home, perhaps instead of other forms of entertainment.

Certainly, it could be argued that console games these days have morphed into beasts that require serious playtime - so mobile games have a perfect opportunity for short bursts of entertainment.

I do think that there's been a bit of a rush to write the Popcap data up without really looking at it.

There's no methodology listed; I would assume that people were asked to enter ALL the places they like to play games. Is it therefore a surprise that people like to play at home, at work or on the move? I'd certainly tick all of those boxes - except for the church one.

It's not about location per se - it's about ease of play, ease of controls, fun, accessibility and value.

If we focus too much on the fact that people play at home, then we'll fall into the same trap as the console world that is just trying to get us to spend more and more time in front of a box in their living rooms, and less time innovating.

Jared Steffes Co-founder Muxy

We make games to be fun, and that is an addictive emotion.

A mobile developer may target a one and half minute play session, but if they get the recipe for fun correct the addictive nature of the emotion keeps the player engaged.

David MacQueen Executive Director Strategy Analytics

For sure there’s room for larger 'adventures'.

Square Enix's Chaos Rings for example is a huge game and it did quite well on mobile, although I do admit I got bored of it well before finishing. But I don't necessarily think PopCap’s research is evidence that mobile replaces the console experience, I think it works a bit differently from that.

I don't know about other people, but I divide my games up mentally into 3 categories – games that I can play in short sessions, medium sessions and long sessions.

At any given time I've got three games I am playing - not simultaneously of course - and which one I play depends on how much time I have.

Right now it's Fruit Ninja for short sessions, Ticket to Ride for medium sessions and Elder Sign for long sessions. I'd be willing to bet that quite a few other gamers have a similar viewpoint regarding their own mobile games collection - I’m sure plenty of 'hardcore' console gamers have a copy of Angry Birds for example for those short sessions.

On this basis of dividing my collection, which type of game I play doesn’t depend on where I am but rather on the amount of time I have. I might play a quick round of Fruit Ninja on the couch while waiting for a match on TV to start, rather than listen to the commentators talk rubbish, for example.

And I tend to play long-session games more often when travelling, on a longer train ride or on the plane. So I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that couch equals long play and commute equals short play.

For sure there is a market for longer, deeper games, but I'd be wary of interpreting this research as proof of that, and I think how people use mobile gaming is more subtle than being down to location.

Joony Koo Head of Business Development Block Crafters

Well, there is definitely a big impact in the online PC games industry in Korea.

The pool of hard core PC online game consumers in Korea is shrinking and it seems the gamers who were exposed to mobile games at a young age are not entering the age of 'hardcoreness' – 19-25.

That's when 80 percent of the kids are attending college here in Korea.

As David mentioned, I don't want to interpret this research as proof of mobile games replacing console games. However, if you look at the PC online gaming industry in Korea, its userbase is shrinking at a fast pace.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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