That’s right, back to America!

Willkommen, meine Damen und Herren! Es freut mich sehr, wieder zurück zu sein! Ich hoffe, daß ihr alle mein Weblog geniessen werdet!

Welcome, ladies and gents! I’m so glad to be back, and I hope you’re all going to enjoy my blog!

And so it goes, I spent the last year in Germany, studying awesome music stuff that you’re going to eventually hear about, I’m sure! Let’s suffice to say at this moment I am much, much more prepared to enter the industry of video game composition than I was a year ago. Not only do I possess WAY more knowledge and skills in the area of music creation, but I have also obtained a much clearer picture of what I’ve got to do to be successful. It’s still a long way away, but it feels closer than ever!

Seriously glad to be back, guys and gals. In my time in Germany, there was a lot of snow, a lot of lonely evenings, a lot of times when things were closed and there was nothing to do. But no, dear reader. Don’t feel sorry for me. Because you know what those lonely, quiet moments mean.

YES, VIDEO GAMES!!!!

To be more specific, video game emulators and computer games. But let’s not quibble about minutae. I was in a foreign country, with thousands of things to do, and a whole bright world to see! But I spent some of my time playing games. Sue me.

As you all know, if you’ve read my blog, I am much more concerned with the past of video games than I am with the future. Not exactly accurate, of course, but I definitely write about it more! And I thought for my first post of my return, I’d stay inside my comfort zone and write about them.

But I’m a new man. I’ve learned so much, experienced so much, and gained many, many metaphorical levels and skill points. Now is the time to embrace the new. To advance. To come out of the retro gaming cocoon, and be a modern gaming butterfly. So let’s have a talk, shall we?

Mobile gaming. *Dun dun dunnnnn*

This is a "mobile" device. In case you've never heard of it.

This is a “mobile” device. In case you’ve never heard of it.

Mobile gaming is new. It’s flashy. It’s got every game developer frothing at the mouth, thinking of all of the opportunities for making delicious little dollars (pounds/euros/yen, let’s not be ethnocentric, here). Well, not all game developers. That is, the “game developers” who have no interest in making actual games, but the vapid, soulless capitalists who venture into the realm of game development solely to suck money out of the wallets of unsuspecting mobile users everywhere. There’s no better way to do it than through the other thing you have in your pockets all the time: your mobile phone.

But, Another Gamer, why are they vapid and soulless? Aren’t they just taking advantage of a new market?

Oh, you dear, naive reader, you are so right and so wrong. Let’s look at some other gaming markets, shall we? The console market is a perfect example! Games are now more expensive than EVER! Ask your buddies in Australia how much it is to get the new Madden or Assassin’s Creed! It’s close on 90 bucks, sometimes more. Their already slim wallets scream and beg, “Please, no more (mate)!” (Get it? They’re Australian.) I’ve seen new games for the PS3 and 360 that border on 60 bucks, and even the handheld consoles are getting their prices jacked up, especially for big brand names like Mario or Zelda. (I can’t speak for the Vita or whatever, I honestly couldn’t care less. Sorry, Sony lovers [I’m not sorry].)

What about the PC market? Certainly, Minecraft is still sitting at a comfy 20 dollars, and there are plenty of games that are less than that, but the largest titles (excluding the ones also for consoles, like BioShock: Infinite or Skyrim) are all still quite pricey. Not forgetting MMORPGs like EVE, SWToR, and WoW, each having their own subscription fees (well, maybe not SWToR anymore, but that’s just because it kind of failed).

Now, we’ve got the dollar signs stuck in our heads, and realize that although the cost to develop these games is draconian, the price we pay for them is also pretty flippin’ huge. I’m not even going to THINK about the next-gen consoles and how much their games will be. Gives me heartburn.

But mobile games. Ah, dear mobile games. What’s the average cost of a mobile game? The answer is probably somewhere around 50 cents, because all of the biggest mobile games have two versions: a 99-cent version and a free version that’s powered by ads. Think about that for a minute. The LARGEST titles for mobile devices are less than a dollar. Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, Unblock Me, DrawSomething, Words with Friends, and joined most recently by Candy Crush Saga. You’ve probably heard of them all. Most of you have probably played them, if you own a smartphone or tablet. AND THEY’RE PRACTICALLY FREE.

Nope. THEY ARE FREE.

The market for mobile games is so cheap that it is simply not a viable option for anyone who wants to make a quality game that a select number of people will pay a decent amount of money for. Minecraft only got away with it because of its PC-gained fame, and it is literally the ONLY game in the top 100 that costs more than 5 dollars. To have a profitable mobile game, it MUST be playable and enjoyable by an enormously wide audience.

This means, of course, that creativity is stifled. Originality is stifled. Everything forward-looking about mobile game development is smothered like it was one of Stalin’s political opponents. If you want to make a real, cool game for a mobile device, forget it. RPGs? Nonexistent. Open-world games? Nope. Creative, original games that use the mobile control scheme in a new, engaging way? You might get away with this one, but in all likelihood, you won’t be successful enough to earn back the money you spent on the top ramen you subsisted on while developing it.

Each flavor is more original than your next mobile game.

Each flavor is more original than your next mobile game.

I’m 100% serious in this matter. Jokes aside, the mobile game market is a stagnant, ugly beast. If you want more proof: think about how willing you are to buy a mobile game. For me, I say: nope. Nope nope nope. I’m not gonna pay a dollar for that game! Are you kidding? It’s like paying something for a piece of data, paying something for a download. Way too expensive, I can use my money for other stuff!

I have played Candy Crush Saga for close to 10 hours now, and I know I’m one of the newbies. There are people who sink so much time into this game that it’s ridiculous. And still, they don’t pay the dollar. They don’t pay the ONE SINGLE dollar to buy the game. I think about what I pay a dollar for. A quart of gas, enough to go about 5 or 6 miles. A coke. A crappy hamburger. Four gumballs. A kiddie scoop of ice cream. A greeting card. These are all things you don’t even think about buying. Impulse buys that occur while you’re at the grocery store and you feel a bit peckish.

For the price of a Whopper large combo, I could buy the paid versions of every game I currently have on my smartphone. For the price of ONE SINGLE PS3 game I could buy paid versions of all the games on my entire FAMILY’S smartphones and still have enough left to take my ladyfriend out for a nice romantic dinner. But I haven’t and I won’t.

The point I’m trying to make is this: the mobile game market is going nowhere. Vapid, soulless games are the norm, they are the standard, they are the only way to be successful in that particular avenue. Anyone who tries to make a legitimate game for the mobile market is going to take a heavy loss and have their game die in anonymity. And even if it is popular, don’t fool yourself into thinking that your revenue will come from sales. It’s ad revenue or nothing, folks. Free games with ads are what the vast majority of people have on their phones, and it’s what people have preferred since the opening of the mobile market.

But the thing is: all hope is not lost! It may seem like we’re in a vicegrip of suckiness, and all the temple running and angry birding won’t help us one bit… but the fact of the matter is that there WILL be people who make real games for the mobile platform. I don’t intend to be one of them, but I promise they’ll be out there. And if there is a real, good-quality, enjoyable game with some kind of plot and that isn’t just variations on the same gimmick (aka. every popular mobile game ever)… buy it. Buy it even if you don’t finish it. Buy it even if it’s more than a dollar. You didn’t need that whopper value menu anyway. Buy it to support the developer and to get them seen by the public. If we buy these games and support these people, then things can change. Mobile gaming can go from being an idle, mind-numbing time-waster to something that the GAMER can enjoy. Mobile gaming can be a valid platform for people who want to provide an experience, for people who want to make a statement, for people who want to create ART.

The change will not be easy, and it will not come rapidly, but we’re all responsible for getting this market out of the dumpster and onto the ever-increasing level of artistry and professionalism that defines the game industry.

I’m Another Gamer, and I’m glad to be back.

~AG

P.S. It appears I’ve spent actually quite a bit of time whining about games of this genre before. You’ll just have to make do and wait till I get talking about indie games again.

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About Isaac Smith

I write about music, technology, video games, and probably many other subjects that don't bear mentioning here. Either way, most of it's worth reading, and you may even enjoy yourself!

Posted on August 5, 2013, in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nice post! I’m glad your back. Have you ever heard of Tobuscus Adventures The Game? 🙂

  2. Willkommen zurück! That’s “welcome back” right? Or did I just say “welcome meatballs?” Anywaaaayy…good to see you’re writing again! And what an apropos topic (mobile gaming) for me as I’ve just recently bought my first tablet AND my first set of PAID mobile games — GTA: Vice City, Scribblenauts Remix, World of Goo – and they’ve been 100% awesome so far. I’ve been playing free games on my phone for awhile now, but making the jump to paid games is well…something. You’re right, the mobile gaming market isn’t exactly saturated with great games, but like you say, if we shell out the money to support those who are trying to make it awesome, then the market shall eventually become awesome!

    • The important thing to remember about the good games you just mentioned: GTA is DEFINITELY a recycled genre (and game) that has made it to a mobile platform. Just because they redid OoT for 3DS doesn’t mean that I get to go and rave about how it’s an awesome game “for 3DS.” Same for Scribblenauts, though I think it definitely benefits from the mobile platform.

      World of Goo is one of those “extrapolating on the same mechanics” kind of games. Doesn’t mean they’re not fun, addictive, high-quality games. It DOES mean that they’re not quite exploring the potential of mobile games.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! And you said the German perfectly 🙂 Though I would welcome some meatballs right now, too…

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