Mobile Gaming – A Corporate Curse or Consumer Gift?

Since the iPhone was launched and the App store was released upon the world, we’ve seen thousands upon thousands of new apps and games flood the market from creative individuals and developers. This made mobile gaming a true platform to be enjoyed by literally everyone with access to a Smartphone, iPod touch or other compatible device. Specifically I’m talking mobiles/Smartphones/Tablets and not PS Vita or Nintendo DS/3DS.

From the age old classic of ‘Snake’ a decade or so ago in black and white, where having any game on your phone was a novelty in even the most basic of forms, to now almost PlayStation 2 level graphical quality with games such as N.O.V.A or Real Racing series by EA – mobile gaming has come a very long way indeed. Making calls and shooting zombies all on the same device has never been so rewarding or time consuming. From a good business standpoint it’s opened up the gaming market to the widest audience possible – a recent report found that 79% of 18-44 year olds have their Smartphones near them 22 hours a day. Giving consumers something fun to do while they are waiting or commuting whilst being engaged with a brand/mobile advertising is the best of both worlds one may think, but can this be destructive?

Games come in many varieties. Free, paid for or a disconcerting mixture called ‘Freemium’. Free games are generally supported by advertising (as are Freemium) whereas paid games generally speaking contain few or no advertisements. The paid or free games I take no issue with. Freemium however are cleverly disguised as ‘Free’ but soon either halt your game progress or constantly bombard you with slightly misleading options which make you unsure whether you have to pay or not. The aim is to get you so hooked with an addictive business model that you feel enamoured to spend money to continue. Granted, the issues arising from this are aimed at the younger audiences entering their Apple id and not realising there is a charge yet it’s an unsavoury practice. It’s much like a game demo but a very restrictive one that is rarely representative of a decent gaming experience. As a result this has caused untold grief for many people mistakenly making payments which were unclear and generally creating a bad taste in consumer’s mouth.

There is a fear in my mind that a Smartphone culture has made us all both less aware of what is going on around us, but also turning our brains on autopilot to an extent. On the train this morning out of 6 seats (split into 2 sets of 3 facing each other) every single person was deep into their Smartphone swiping and tapping. We’re in a digital age so naturally assume this to be pretty normal and there is almost a stigma attached to you if you don’t have a Smartphone, however I can’t help feeling a little jaded that most would spend all day with screens in offices and the natural instinct is to look at another screen on the way home. People miss train stops, lose track of time or even have been close to having an accident walking across the road due to playing on their Smartphone. Make no mistake, Smartphones will only get more advanced and more time sappingly engaging addictive games will arrive

Largely due to the complexity of mobile games we can now tweet, share and socially integrate ourselves with our digital counterparts. Perhaps cynically it’s a way to boost brands’ digital footprint under the guise of competing with your friends for a high score. In previous times the computer opponent was the only top score that mattered and now you’re up against the world – a daunting task if ever there was one, but empowering nonetheless.

Shady DLC practices and social monitoring aside, mobile gaming will simply continue to drain both time and money from many consumers but ultimately levitating any notion of boredom that ever existed when your train breaks down, your girlfriend is late or you’ve had that dodgy Indian curry and are ‘otherwise engaged’.

The Rise of Multiplayer Mobile Games

With the increasing popularity of mobile games, more options are becoming readily available for users. Multiplayer games have already been a huge success on consoles and PCs. Now, their numbers are increasing for mobile devices as well. Technology such as Bluetooth and 3G allows more and more players to connect and enjoy some friendly competition.

One reason why this type of game has been so effective is that mobile users like to stay connected to others via their devices. These socially minded people are much more likely to engage in gameplay that allows them to interact with other players instead of opting for single player options. Rather than challenging a generic computer opponent, they’re able to test their skills against other people.

Multiplayer games do not have the same diversity as single player games, but there are quite a few options available. Some of the most popular multiplayer games have a gambling theme, such as blackjack or poker. Others feature well-known classic games such as Checkers or Chess. Many of these multiplayer games are often based on console or PC games. The themes and gameplay for these mobile games offer similar, yet scaled down versions. However, with most game companies targeting casual gamers instead of hardcore gamers, the lack of high-quality graphics has not been as much of an issue. Also, the focus on casual gamers gives game companies a wider net to cast when promoting their products.

As mentioned earlier, technology has also been an important factor in popularizing multiplayer games. The earliest versions of multiplayer games only allowed two players to compete due to the limits of Infra Red technology. Thanks to 3G, it’s now possible for large numbers of people to participate in these games. Although Bluetooth does not have the same capacity as 3G in terms of numbers, it does allow a handful of people to play at the same time. With the improvement of technology, the demand for multiplayer games has increased accordingly.

The latest trend in multiplayer mobile games is the development of MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games. TibiaME, made by CipSoft, was the first of these to be released. This real time game allows you to explore and fight your way through the world of Tibia. Much like Blizzard’s highly popular World of Warcraft game, you can team up with others to perform quests or fight them in PVP, or Player vs. Player, mode.

Recently, Smart Cell Technology was developing a mobile version of the PC game Shadow of Legend. This game would have many similar features as TibiaME, along with some improvements. If it is completed, it will be the first cross-platform game to allow gamers to share the same account on their PC and mobile device. Due to a problem with 3D graphics, however, development has been suspended for the mobile version.

Multiplayer mobile games have come a long way from the original 1 to 1 player ratio. Being able to compete against several other players has given people the chance to interact more and enjoy a greater sense of satisfaction when defeating opponents. Multiplayer games are providing mobile users with another reason to stay connected and another way to get the most enjoyment out of their mobile devices. As demand continues to grow and improvements continue to be made, the popularity and quality of these games will continue to rise.

The Age of Free Online Gaming

The last decade has been reason enough for us to label it as the age of free online gaming and now even though the medium is gradually shifting onto the cellular medium, the drive remains. People are still resorting to playing online free games across various websites including social media platforms. Do you hear of people shop hopping to malls and bazaars in search of games and devices anymore? They only need to plug in to the internet and play flash games in 2D, 3D, 4D or download gaming software directly off the net. Corporate biggies like Microsoft, Sony, etc acknowledge the growing popularity of the online gaming culture and hence inundate the market with advanced gaming consoles and games. No doubt, there’s a lot of market scope for the same but then again there is a larger section of gamers who’d rather not invest so much in branded gaming software. The smarter alternative here is to bank on online free games which also let you compete with friends.

The perks of online free games are just too many. Let alone the fact that they are absolutely free, the other benefits of online games includes the thrill of playing with your pals, colleagues, etc. This takes interactive gaming to another level of excitement. Most online free games are designed simplistically so as to fit into the busy schedules of urban people. So that saves you a lot of time that is otherwise lost when indulging in elaborate software gaming. It could be a brain teasing sudoku or the good old Farmville, variety is a given. You will never be tired or bored of monotony. Another matter of convenience is you can access these online free games from not just your PC, but other devices like mobiles and tablets too. That gives you flexibility of usage. You’re stranded in traffic, seems like an open road is a good half hour away, what do you do? Pull out your mobile and begin!

Along with every perk comes a wave of negativity. Free downloadable games have been criticized for being way too addictive. Owing to the ease and accessibility of these free games, people tend to devote long hours of their days to online gaming thus sabotaging their daily productivity. However many of the names are designed to probe a child’s thinking prowess and consequently sharpen their gray cells. There is an entire separate genre of online free games for kids of all age groups. According to studies conducted such games help develop a child’s concentration level, analytic and logical reasoning abilities.

Through the ages, kids have never really been ardent fan of mathematics as a subject. Online free games involving use of mathematics is an all new way of approaching the subject. Socially too, such games have a lot to offer. Aside from playing these free games with friends you also get to interact with people across the world. By the looks of thing the coming generation has a lot to watch out for.