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.
One thing is for certain - Sony is serious about mobile. And they’re quite right to want a piece of the action. While the smiles remain benign and enigmatic you can bet that behind the scenes the top brass at Sony’s Tokyo HQ are furious that a bunch of mobile upstarts from all around the world have slid in and stole their sushi.
Japan is no longer the gaming centre of the world and the notion of shelling out hundreds of dollars and pounds for a lumpy, energy-sapping, heat-spewing box in the corner of the living room is starting to look a little silly when all the real fun and innovation is actually right there in your pocket.
Thing is, we wonder if they’re really ready for the fight? Can a company built on splashy marketing, sequels and $60+ games that are updated and re-released year in, year out compete with the agile, envelope-pushing, live-op tweaking and above all FREE games pouring out from tiny creative nerve centres all across the globe? I don’t think that that self same management are quite ready to pump out the products of their hard labour for free just yet and in doing so wouldn’t they be cannibalising the golden goose that’s paved the way and laid their table so far?
It’s a knotty problem and - thanks to playing catch-up - one that won’t be as easily solved as when they built the best console in the world (the original PlayStation), employed the best developers (Namco, Capcom and Konami) and won over gamers with polygons and 3D graphics. The rules for mobile have changed and it’ll be interesting to see just how Sony plays the game this time.
Dead by Daylight is arguably the biggest live-service horror game on the planet at the moment. The game is entering its seventh year and since launch has seen crossovers with some of the biggest names in the genre, whether that’s in film, gaming, or even literature.
The core gameplay loop has remained relatively unchanged since launch. Killers hunt down survivors, survivors fix generators to power the exit gates and escape. Variety comes from the range of killers and perks available, as opposed to new objectives.
The mobile version has, for a long time, been playing catch-up. The Next Era of Horror update introduces the Sadako Rising chapter, which was first released for other platforms in March 2022, and several characters have yet to be released on mobile devices. However, it appears that Behaviour and NetEase may be using the mobile version to experiment with the core gameplay loop.
Dead by Daylight Mobile already had unique kill animations and cosmetics, but the introduction of long-requested features still absent from either the console or PC versions, notably in-game chat, sees the mobile version pull ahead of other platforms, while the addition of the relic system could shake up the game like never before.
Are Behaviour and NetEase seeing what works before taking the changes to other platforms? Perhaps. A movie adaptation was announced earlier this month, which could bring the game to the attention of new audiences. This is arguably the perfect time to shake up the game like never before, and mobile could well be leading the way.
To me, this was a really fascinating story. I had no idea before I started covering the mobile game industry just how big of a deal Honor of Kings is. So I knew instantly that when they announced it was finally coming to Brazil - after delays due to Covid - that it was going to either be a massive success or a surprise failure.
Judging by the effort that went into hiring famous voice actors and ensuring the infrastructure was stable for the Brazilian market, Tencent and TiMi were taking no chances. Whereas some of the other games they brought in, such as Street Fighter: Duel have had a muted reception that can be pretty much summed up as “Just another gacha,” Honor of Kings really seems to have the potential to eclipse League of Legends outside of China, at least in some countries.
It also shows just how diverse the Brazilian and broader LatAm market is. It’s a huge area with different challenges in each country, which I think is why they brought Honor of Kings there first. It shows that they can plan for the most challenging but also most rewarding market, and hopefully end up repeating that success in other areas of the globe too.
It’ll definitely be interesting to follow, and honestly, more competition in a genre that’s been dominated by League (who remembers when Heroes of the Storm was the next big esports title?) would be healthy.