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Week in Views - What caught our eyes in the last seven days

The Pocketgamer.biz team take their pick of this weeks big news including the insignificance of mobile when AR meets AI and… pure… unadulterated… horror!
Week in Views - What caught our eyes in the last seven days

The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…

So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.

Daniel Griffiths

Daniel Griffiths

Editor - PocketGamer.biz

EA downplays the importance of mobile

I honestly don’t get it. I mean, you ARE allowed NOT to be interested in certain things. I mean, thrash metal leaves me a little cold. Flesh tunnels? Not for me, thanks. And as for my ability to name a single English cricketer?… Um… Dave Boycott?… But when you’re one of the biggest and most enduring gaming entities on the planet are you really allowed to say “Mobile? Nah…”

I always thought that EA were ruthlessly resolute in business? They invented grinding out sequels, honing and tweaking their initial dev investment year in year out with irresistible improvements that kept players coming back. They’re the smartest guys in the room. They spotted the inevitable gaming money train back when it was still being hand-cranked by cranks in a spare bedroom. I can recall a Christmas top 10 console chart where FIVE of the 10 were EA games… But mobile? Nah…? Really?

Your PC and console business is doing just great. Well done. Business as per. But just two mobile games in the last three years? Just 18% of your profits from the most popular platform on the planet? Come on fellas, I preferred you when you were greedy.

Lewis Rees

Lewis Rees

Staff Writer

Blumhouse Games appoints horror expert Louise Blain as creative lead

I’ve written previously about the potential of horror in the mobile space. By honing in on what makes mobile unique rather than trying to emulate the experience offered on another platform, developers can potentially create unique games impossible to replicate on console or PC.

With that in mind, Blumhouse Games is a company that captured my interest from the first announcement. The company is responsible for some of the biggest horror movies of the last twenty years, and the creative freedom offered to directors often results in films that go against the grain, ranging from Happy Death Day - a slasher set in a time loop - to Unfriended - a horror told entirely through a Skype call.

The company’s business model and focus on independent projects - one it’s carrying forward into its gaming arm - is in many ways perfect for mobile. It’s a platform always on the hunt for the next killer app - which, incidentally, would be a fantastic name for a mobile horror game - and one where developers can make their millions with a game made in a matter of months, and with a fraction of the budget of a console or PC title.

More importantly, the fact that the announcement specifically noted that the company will release mobile titles - as opposed to the frustratingly vague “all platforms” - emphasizes that mobile games are actively being worked on. Mobile’s accessibility to developers has made it the ideal starting point for companies hoping to break into the world of gaming, allowing for great levels of innovation with both established IPs and new properties.

With horror specifically, we also have to consider the concept of narratology. Every genre has rules, but perhaps nowhere else is that more evident than in horror. The Scream franchise has made its name in the genre by identifying and subverting these rules, and one of my most vivid memories of the genre is opening a door in Until Dawn and immediately realizing I’d broken these rules, and sure enough I was punished for it. In fact, many early horror films were morality tales, where those that broke the rules of polite society were routinely punished.

It’s important for creators within the genre to identify what makes the genre work, something Louise Blain has proven over her career - among other things, she has hosted numerous podcasts that examine and discuss the horror genre, including Hello Sidney: The Scream Podcast, devoted the the world’s most meta horror franchise. Blain is someone who knows the genre inside out, and understands the rules - and when those rules can be broken.

Paige Cook

Paige Cook

Deputy Editor

Niantic gives 8th Wall developers new AI tools

Niantic has announced that its 8th wall platform, which serves as a development platform for webAR and webVR, is gaining its very own generative AI tools. Niantic’s 8th Wall will now see integration of OpenAI, which offers tools such as DALL-E and ChatGPT. The sample videos shared show the seamless use of DALL-E to use simple text inputs, which can change the appearance of the sky or furnishings. They even showcased a sample from Inworld AI’s module, which allows for the creation of characters who can have conversations with users.

Overall, it all sounds like pretty valuable tools to have at your disposal, and it gives creators the ability to try new things without the pressure of putting in hours of work only to find out they don’t like the result.

But herein lies the double-edged sword of AI. In some instances, it’s a brilliant tool that can help creatives in their job and expand their possibilities. Look at the recently announced Broken Sword remake, a project that wouldn't be possible without AI. But then, going back to Niantic, who recently came under fire for its Pokémon Go Adventures Abound cover art as it appears to be AI-generated, something they are yet to confirm or deny, but it has all the telltale signs.

A company such as Niantic, which has access to incredible artists and a lofty budget, may have opted to use AI art rather than utilise the real talent it has doesn't particularly sit right with fans or artists.

I find AI a fascinating topic as someone who can genuinely see both sides of the coin, and we are only going to see more of it in the gaming industry. We shouldn't fear it, but we do need to embrace it in the right way. If you want to hear more on AI, I’ll be discussing the best AI tools for developers and how best to use them at a panel at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki next week.

Iwan Morris

Iwan Morris

Staff Writer

Razer’s Michael Mucci on alternative payments and Pocket Gamer Connects: “With Supercell, we are just getting started”

I think so far the most interesting interview I’ve done in the lead-up to PGC Helsinki is this one with Michael Mucci. As far as I’m concerned, alternative payment systems for mobile represent a massive shift away from what was previously a closed loop when it comes to the mobile ecosystem.

Google and Apple had what many would, rightfully, term a monopoly for far too long, and I think if anything, alternative payment methods and systems will push them to respond more proactively to community and business concerns.

Razer is an especially unique company to do so, most people will know them for their hardware, but they’re a company with a long tenure, so it’s no surprise they’re branching out. However, I do wonder who else we’ll see try and get into this area, and how Google and Apple will respond. Are they going to try and put a halt on this competition? Or, as I’m hoping, will it encourage them to do better, for players, developers and publishers alike?