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.
Yes. I can honestly say that we saw this one coming. It's so genius. It's so obvious. When the EU forces Google and Apple to lower their walls it's going to be a wild west of app downloads and storefronts come spring 2024.
The only doubt (and potentially the one piece of good news that Apple were clinging to) is the level of credibility such new App Stores can raise. After so many years of hitting the same button for their apps, are users going to migrate in any great numbers to a new store?
Especially as Apple loves to heap on the dangers of ever leaving their walled garden.
Well, here's the genius answer. Facebook is going to sell you apps. Or rather they're going to sell ads with app downloads inside them. No store required and - best of all for developers and publishers - no fees from the transaction. Buy your add, place your app. Simple.
And all from an app that you know and 'love' and already have on your phone.
Make no mistake. This is going to shake things up. We can't wait to see who hops on the mobile app shop train next.
I remember when Pokémon Go was first released, and how much of an absolute craze it was. I was on holiday with my family and only had a second-hand Apple iPhone with terrible - and expensive - 4G. But for whatever reason me and my sister couldn’t get enough of running all over the resort trying to find those colourful little monsters. [Apparently you've got to catch them all, I hear - Ed]
Of course, that was years ago - 2016 to be precise - and things have changed since then. The Pandemic saw major changes to how we interacted for the better part of three years, and consequently, Niantic responded by making major changes to their title.
I don’t want to blame the shift to a different format specifically, but it does feel like the novelty of AR wore off after a while. Niantic seemed to put far too much weight on that aspect, especially when you remember player vs player trainer battles - a key feature of virtually every Pokémon game and the original card game itself - were only added to the game in 2018.
I disagree with the notion that Pokémon Go was a case of being in the right place at the right time, or that there was some aspect of development that Niantic has missed since. I feel that the real “secret ingredient” was the Pokémon name itself, and the format of capturing adorable critters and battling them.
After all, if we look at the recently announced, released and now cancelled NBA World it’s pretty much the same thing, except with training basketball players instead. Niantic never seemed to come up with something new that would push AR forward, instead trying to replicate success with franchises that simply didn’t support it.
I don’t think this is the end of AR, but if it’s not the end of Niantic then it’s certainly a massive, blaring warning sign that they need to seriously reconsider the direction their games are taking. More than that it may be a sign to focus on Pokémon Go, and look at the somewhat controversial changes to remote raids that have had many players up in arms.
YouTube is now looking to expand beyond video hosting and include video games for its users. The platform already has a massive tie-in with gaming, given the numerous accounts that have risen to fame playing games for their viewers - but actually being able to play games on the platform itself is a whole different thing.
With other streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon also making moves to incorporate gaming on their platforms, it’s understandable why yet another big name also wants in on the action. Overall this speaks massive volumes for gaming when everyone feels it’s important that their platform has a gaming offering.
Google had high hopes for Google Stadia, which shut down back in January, but clearly, they aren't ready to call it quits with this new concept of YouTube Playables. Right now, it looks like there’s just one game being internally tested, but it makes me wonder what kind of offerings they would put on the platform in the long run. If you're watching YouTube on your PC, you already have a dozen options for gaming, like Steam, and if you’re watching from your phone, you can directly play a game on your phone from the app store.
So it seems that the biggest hurdle Playables could face is figuring out a way to convince people it's worth playing from YouTube rather than all of the other accessible options already on offer.