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Synchronous multiplayer on mobile is going down the toilet, says PerBlue

Synchronous multiplayer on mobile is going down the toilet, says PerBlue
Mobile gaming's reluctance to push forward with synchronous multiplayer isn't due to technical difficulties or problems with hardware, but rather a reflection of playing habits.

That was the leading soundbite from PerBlue CEO Justin Beck's talk at GDC Europe in Cologne, with Beck claiming the idea mobile gamers would be "playing all the time" and looking to take on their friends in synchronous gameplay simply hasn't played out in reality.

Rather, players tend to tap into mobile games when they're sat on the toilet.

The big flush

"There are four places people play mobile games," offered Beck, using the example of PerBlue's location-based RPG Parallel Kingdom.

"Now lets be honest here: the first one is on the toilet. We certainly have a lot of players who play on the toilet – a lot of you guys probably do that too.

"People also play at work. These days everyone can play over their mobile signal and there's no way the tech guys in the office can track you."

Beck said mobile games are also taken on when people are on public transport or sat waiting for an appointment. The living room, he claimed, is often the last choice for many mobile gamers.

The long and short of that is, people aren't available to play multiplayer at a moment's notice. Rather, they want to take on their friends when they have a spare five minutes, which means asynchronous multiplayer is logically the best choice for mobile games.

"People play when they want to, not when their friends want to," summarised Beck. "So if you're thinking about building synchronous multiplayer into your game, you really need to think about it first."

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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