Making great games is a distinctly human art, of course it is. But a game’s commercial success also depends on objective aspects of its construction - such as how fluidly, responsively and power-efficiently it runs across the vast, chaotic jumble of mobile devices that gamers use.
Today, we’re proud to announce that GameBench is partnering with Pocket Gamer to reveal this sort of cross-device optimisation to readers for the first time, helping them to avoid games that are likely to stutter, lag or grind their phones into a hot pulp.
GameBench bases its ratings on data collected from real gamers using real phones, and then presents them in the form of simple scorecards that looks a lot like this:
How to read the ratings
The example above compares two rival strategy games across the UK’s two most commonly-owned iOS and Android phones: the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6. We’ve deliberately chosen the phones that Pocket Gamer readers are most likely to own, rather than just focusing on the latest and greatest.
Each rating is based on a comprehensive analysis of performance and power consumption that you can access by clicking through to GameBench’s own database. Here you’ll find more detailed scores, searchable by phone type and including both the most popular and the most high-end flagships.
The colour coding should soon become familiar: blue and green represent GameBench-recommended degrees of optimisation, while yellow and red highlight less optimised experiences.
The hardest hardware
Part of the reason we’re so excited about these ratings cards is that they put equal weight on the software and hardware that go into every gaming experience, which brings a valuable new perspective to Pocket Gamer’s typically game-centric view.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll start to aggregate our ratings to produce definitive verdicts on the best-optimised games and the best-optimised devices for playing those games.
After all, if a gaming experience falls short of expectations, it isn’t necessarily the studio’s fault. In the example above, we can’t blame Gameloft or Supercell for the fact that the iPhone 6 has a relatively puny battery capacity.
Conversely, it isn’t the manufacturer’s fault when studios fail to take full advantage of hardware capabilities. We frequently see more expensive and more capable smartphones performing worse at popular games, because software developers have failed to exploit them or to run adequate performance tests.
The upshot of all this is that mobile game optimisation is too difficult and too inconsistent. We’ll be happy if our ratings steer consumers towards better buying decisions, but we’ll be even happier if this new type of scrutiny encourages hardware and software engineers to work together more closely, to tackle the overarching challenge of optimisation and produce the best possible gaming experiences.
In the meantime, in case you’re curious, here’s a list of recent game reviews that already sport the new widgets:
Injustice 2 review - More Batman vs Superman than Young Justice
Blitz Brigade: Rival Tactics review - Can it topple Clash Royale?
Guns of Boom review - The first essential mobile shooter?
Battle Bay review - A breezy summer shooter
Super Mario Run review - Nintendo or Nintendon't?