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.
And another one bites the dust. Oh. Make that another two. It seems like we’re writing about the closure of amazing games as often as we're reporting on the success of them these days.
One thing is for sure. The world of mobile moves fast and the big guys aren’t afraid to put their money where their mouth is one minute then walk away from the whole shebang the next. And – perhaps after having their fingers burnt and their nose put out of joint by getting into mobile a little later than they ought to have – it seems that EA are desparate to play catch-up in the hardball department.
This week they calmly offed both Apex Legends Mobile AND Battlefield Mobile seemingly just to prove how tough they really are. Let’s not forget that just a couple of short months ago Apex Legends Mobile won the Google Play Award for Best Overall Game of 2022 AND iPhone Game of the Year at Apple's Awards. What the heck?
Respawn Studio, the EA subsidiary responsible for the development of Apex Legends, stated that “we aim to provide players with games that are consistently outstanding. Following a strong start, the content pipeline for Apex Legends Mobile has begun to fall short of that bar for quality, quantity, and cadence.” Come on guys, there’s a bigger story buried in here somewhere [makes the money sign]…
We’re not sure when the craziness will stop (and just how much money IS enough money) but we hope that the trend for killing profitable games that somehow aren’t profitable enough (much to the disapointment of their fans who've pumped money into them) ends soon. And if a game has to be sunset, make sure you do it properly, eh?
I really enjoyed Aarni’s talk at PGC London at the end of January. Especially the discussion about moving genres and how they viewed it. I do like talking about the business side of stuff, but too often it gets mired in money, advertising and other very dry topics. I think his talk was a good example of how you can discuss the artistic rationale whilst showing how it relates to business.
As for the content, it was really interesting seeing the progression from a game like Hills of Steel, which has a massive influence from flash games in my mind, to something like Hills of Steel 2 with its own unique art-style. Then onto Hills of Steel: Commander, I did like how they specifically geared the overview of the player’s base to be a moment of calm, I think overwhelming a player with visual info on a lot of games is a real mood-killer. It makes you feel like you don’t have time to prepare for the next bit of gameplay.
As for keeping identity, it did heavily remind me of how Command & Conquer tried that with Renegade. That game was definitely interesting to look at from a historical angle. Especially how they tried to adapt exaggerated RTS units and buildings into a more ground-level FPS perspective. Whilst Hills of Steel isn’t making that big of a leap it’s definitely a difference in looks and feel.
Shifting genres is a massive risk, but I especially admire the choice to change what they’ve done in terms of game design philosophy. I find ‘golden rules’ tend to be stuff you can break when you’re confident enough. When you’ve mastered the basics it’s always good to stretch and bend what’s considered to be accepted wisdom. After all, making a game for yourself sounds like an easy recipe for disaster, but passion projects exist for a reason.
I’m hoping in the future I’ll see more developers talk about topics like this in-depth. It was really informative for someone like me who looks at stuff from the perspective of a player very often.
The past few years have seen a sharp upswing in game adaptations that haven’t just been okay – they’ve been… well. Good. The Last of Us may have finally cemented the potential for game adaptations to a wider audience but we’ve seen well-received adaptations of the likes of Detective Pikachu, Cyberpunk 2077, and there are more on the way.
As one of the biggest franchises in gaming history, Tomb Raider has already seen multiple attempts at translating Lara Croft’s adventures into a new medium, with varying degrees of success, but this rumoured acquisition could just signal the biggest, and best, adaptation yet. Amazon’s position in streaming can’t be understated, and with a TV series already announced as being in the works, it may be hoping that it has a big hit on its hands.
The beauty of Tomb Raider as a franchise, at least in terms of adaptations, is that there’s plenty of material to draw from, and Lara can just as easily stray from the established path. As such, the series could do just as well as an adventure of the week show as it could with a single, series long adventure. The Last of Us may see success as a (mostly) faithful retelling of the series, but the Tomb Raider series could experiment with new storylines just as easily as established ones, whether she’s hunting for El Dorado or exploring Atlantis. There’s plenty to explore, and we have one of gaming’s most beloved heroines to lead us.
Of course, this does raise some questions about the franchise itself, which was acquired by Embracer Group in 2022. In its history the series has changed hands several times, and while this acquisition – IF it proves to be true – is exciting, it’s worth noting that Amazon has yet to make a sizable impact in the games space. But such an acquisition could see the company finally break into the sector in a big way, as well as getting around licensing issues which could otherwise impact future adaptations.
However, if the rumours prove true, this could cause some issues elsewhere, such as with the release of Tomb Raider Reloaded later this month, announced the very next day. We shall see.