What is wrong with mobile games? Part I

I have always been a fan of computer games. My first gaming experiences were of games which no one would think of playing nowadays (no, I am not old enough to have played Pong). They were ugly but some had some very nice innovation in them. I may sound ungrateful but venture to say that innovation in games was easier in those days. That is for the simple reason that the technology was very new. Things just had not happened before. Basically the same thing has happened with every media like movies. With hardware you get a free ticket for innovation. You can do stuff unseen before.

To me the frontiers of today are mobile games and social games. Both have been around for quite a few years but are clearly still ongoing strong change. Be it the business models, game mechanics or graphics there are strong forces of change in work. One of the reasons for this is that money involved in the industry has grown rapidly. We all know of the unbelievably high valuations for say Zynga. These are good things, really. What is not good, is that these tend to drive the scene to a future with very few options.

I concentrate here on mobile games because that is what we are about. Okay, it’s easy to make mobile games. There are tons of games that have required just a few days of development. Some of them even rank high on the markets. Of course, time spent in the development is by no means a merit in itself. The faster (and cheaper) the game comes out the better. The bad thing is that this drowns the market in crap. This makes it more difficult (and more expensive) for good games to stand out. Many of these two day projects are casual fun-for-one-minute games. Most people play mobile games for just a few minutes at a time but the problem is you don’t want to return to these games. Ever. There is really no challenge, no innovation. The graphics are cute, though.

Mobiles devices are all about communication. So, why are so few games taking advantage of the social aspect? When they do, we get mostly copies of Facebook games. I personally cannot see the game aspect in these cow clickers.

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