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.
What a mess. Only time will tell if Europe’s friendly intervention into Apple’s locked-down money machine turns out to be as beneficial as they claim, or the opening of a can of worms that most hapless iOS users had never even considered.
Never forget that Apple’s intentions were to make it easy for devs and gamers to get their hands on audience and great games respectively. Back pre-App store things were a mess. Multiple handsets running multiple OS… Carriers more interested in delivering fast-buck re-works of So-Called Splinter Cell than original, brave games… And consumers so confused by the whole process of getting a game on mobile that most didn’t bother.
Sure, things might have morphed into an evil monopoly with one side (the devs) shackled to a contract and made to work like crazy to appease the other (Apple), but let’s give Apple the benefit of the doubt. At least the bit about making it all easier and better.
But an iOS for Europe and one for the US? One part of the world able to sideload and the other not? If the rumours are true this all is sounding a little too much like the bad old days. We can’t help thinking there’s a fair and easy way to give users the freedom to choose, keep the Euro regulators happy and prevent iOS becoming a mess? And iOS fragmentation isn’t it.
AI is a handy tool for developers, but one that I believe needs to be approached with caution.
While I’m supportive of the technology in some aspects, such as a tool to assist with some aspects of development, I’m somewhat concerned about the potential of artificial intelligence to replace some jobs entirely, especially in creative fields. For example, I may use Midjourney to create a portrait of my Dungeons and Dragons characters, but it’s another thing entirely to then sell those portraits for profit. ChatGPT might have its uses, but should one of those uses involve game development, or really any artistic field? In ten years, will Hollywood studios or book publishers or game developers decide to cut out the middleman by using the program (or others like it) to create a narrative to their specifications? Will creativity and artistic merit be reduced, in part, to who has the best AI program to churn out stories?
The use of the program in Scattergories is interesting, since part of the game’s appeal is in its randomness, and the program can create endless prompts which act as a springboard for players. It’s a good example of how AI can be used as a tool, and regardless of your opinions on the use of AI in creative fields it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, and the effect this has on the game’s performance.
I found this a particularly interesting story mainly because of the angle of, well, Fortnite once again bypassing Apple’s store ban. I’m all for it. It means that players have alternate means of playing a game on their platform of choice while Apple can still maintain its blockade on Epic Games’ battle royale title.
The whole issue of who is in the wrong, legally and ethically in the Epic Vs Apple saga has kind of passed us by. I think now the more interesting and important issue is to examine what happens around it. I don’t expect Apple to decide suddenly that cloud gaming services on their ecosystem have to abide by their app store rules for games they’ve banned, but it’s not totally impossible either - especially if there’s some sort of legal quandary around transactions within these games.
At the same time it also raises the question of whether or not Apple’s approach really is outdated in trying to keep such a stranglehold on their ecosystem. Every year more and more people are adopting phones and services by other manufacturers like Huawei and Android, and as much as I respect people who like Apple’s design philosophy, for someone my age it just seems a little quaint, for lack of a better term.
Then again, Epic didn’t exactly think before leaping in headfirst, and took an adversarial stance on an issue in an attempt to sling some petty insults (remember that ad parodying Apple’s own “1984” ad?).
But more to the point, given that we’ve had things like the Activision Blizzard deal being blocked over cloud gaming of all things, are we seeing this technology take the lead - if not in a technical sense then in a legislative and platform rules sense? I think it’s a situation that is going to come to a head sooner or later.