Apple proudly announced the key features for their new iOS version just yesterday, and while a large part of them would be more appropriate on gadget and tech-based sites, there are a few aspects that would interest us gamers as well.
Mobile gaming has developed profoundly in the past few years, and it’s for obvious reasons. Phones and tablets have become smarter as they go, and despite the relative stagnation in tangible improvement/changes in mobile technology, one way or another the mobile market still succeeds in generating ridiculous money.
Be it an individually attempted surprise like Flappy Bird or a team-based success like Clash of Clans, one game or the other is taking mobile gaming to the next level.
Apple, Google, and all other mobile giants have taken notice of that, which is why every new iteration of their respective operating systems have offerings of improvement in the gaming genre.
The true question though is if these additions can really push mobile gaming beyond the stage that it currently has reached. In a more focused sense, we could ask whether or not Apple’s additional game-based features would actually revolutionize mobile gaming as it is.
For starters, let’s have a brief look at what iOS 9 offers new in-terms of gaming. There’s the GameplayKit, which is a tool that helps create artificial intelligence and navigation.
There’s the Model I/O, which will greatly aid in designing 3D lighting models. Finally, there’s the ReplayKit, which lets users record and share gameplay footage.
All three of these ideas are extremely interesting and unique, but are they truly revolutionizing? Will the truly change the way mobile gaming is perceived, or aid the mobile gaming industry in reaching new heights?
What we’ve learned from the recent years is that for mobile games, the eye-candy aspect doesn’t seem to have any direct correlation to success.
Think Flappy Bird, or even Clash of Clans. Sure, you could argue with titles such as Eufloria and Monument Valley, but they use graphics as a mere catalyst for highly engaging gameplay mechanics.
For this very reason, the largely aesthetic-focused Model I/O seems to fall rather short of having a breakthrough impact on how mobile games succeed.
Sure, they will certainly play a large role in aiding developers to make their games look nicer, but aesthetics are the last and least important part of a highly successful Model-driven architecture (MDA).
The GameplayKit on the other hand will certainly give devs more authority and flexibility with their games, especially when it comes to more complex tasks, but then again, do mobile games really need to become complex?
A large majority of mobile gamers are casual gamers looking to have some stress-relief fun. The complex stuff is more suited to console platforms or PC.
I personally love my God of Light copy, and I enjoyed Osmos to the fullest on my mobile phone. However, I can’t say the same for the NOVA series, which despite its brilliant design, graphics, and complexity, seems like an attempt to put a Ferrari engine in a Fiat body.
Such games belong on the big screens — ones with physical controllers rather than hit-and-miss capacitive touchscreens. For this very reason, I’m not entirely convinced that offering a GameplayKit will definitely catapult how mobile-games work to a completely new territory games.
Last but not least is the ReplayKit. Interesting, simply idea that probably had some third-party tools that could do the same as it did. However, because of its integration with the operating system itself, this may well be the ‘game changer’, so to speak.
The social aspect of gaming is largely overlooked by many, and in reality for a developer that is the part that needs to be focused the most. ReplayKit would allow not only those playing the games to share their experience with others, but also spread the popularity of certain games.
Having difficulties on a specific Monument Valley Act? No problem, ask a friend or someone else who has already played the game to share a video footage for that specific stage.
There are some great games out there on mobile platforms, but a wide majority of them are hidden under useless rubbles of trash clones and copies that form the bulk of the store. The real emphasis should be an attempt to bring forth the hidden jewels.
This means completely changing the way the store works, the search engine system, and more importantly granting improved marketing and social options to developers. This includes stuff like advertising, leaderboard options, and the ReplayKit that Apple offered.
Mobile games do not get media coverage like games for consoles or PC, which is why the heavier emphasis should be on bringing forth a system that would allow the developers to target specific audiences more easily through social media. Gaming hubs and services such as Steam on a more miniaturized scale would work splendidly well on mobile platforms.
Efforts have been made in that direction, but they have been large subsidiary and secondary. Giants like Apple and Google need to recognize the importance of this.
Sure, the developers will be able to create complex games with immense graphics, but what makes those games more fun than Clash of Clans or Flappy Bird, which aren’t as complex? Only figuring out the answer to that will push mobile gaming to a new level.