I've mentioned before that a big part of what I do around here is follow the larger mobile scene to try to sort of get ahead of the curve for what we should be covering on TouchArcade. That involves reading a lot of developer blogs, which usually are pretty interesting for one reason or another, but rarely leave me just standing at my desk doing one of these:

To be fair, I work at a standing desk, so I was already standing, but the point remains the same: Ex-Bioware/Ex-Supercell game developer Andreas Papathanasis knocked this one so far out of the park that I simply had to share it here on TouchArcade. The blog post in question is titled Vainglory vs Clash Royale and the future of “hardcore” games on mobile and I highly recommend you just set aside 10 minutes of your time and just go there and read it.

The basic thesis surrounds just how far off the mark "hardcore" mobile games are when it comes to actually being titles many mobile gamers will spend time on as mobile gaming thrives in the moments of spare time that make up your otherwise busy day. With regards to the trend of a lot of "hardcore" iOS experiences gravitating towards emulating PC-style games, Papathanasis points out, "I couldn’t even comprehend the possibility that a mobile game would require my undivided attention for such amounts of time," following needing to drop out of a Vainglory [Free] match that eclipsed the 27 minute mark.

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A lot of the post specifically cites problems with Vainglory, but it's merely the best/most popular example of a whole load of "hardcore" games that exist on mobile even though the only thing "mobile" about them is the fact that they're technically being played on a mobile device. The contrast between this and Clash Royale is interesting too, as the soft launched title that we've posted about quite a bit shockingly successfully scratches nearly all my needs for a "hardcore" game while both being totally free for me to play and with game sessions limited to an absolute maximum of four minutes a piece played in a way that feels totally natural for a great mobile experience- As opposed to fiddling with minimaps, panning cameras around, and largely wishing I could just plug a mouse and keyboard into my iPad.

He concludes his piece by saying that while success on mobile will undoubtedly become more difficult for developers to find, it's not going to be because of technical barriers or game complexity that requires massive teams. Andreas continues, "I believe the increased difficulty will mainly come from experienced teams of all sizes (including tiny teams) of extremely skilled developers who operate in the right kind of environment that allows them to create long term experiences so elegant, fun, and suitable for the platform, that they will make a large amount of players not even care to look for other games to play over many years." Hell, a great super-recent example of that is the three dudes that made Crashlands, which is easily the best game we've played so far this year, as it's a fairly complicated title that feels totally at home on mobile.

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Anyway, I totally don't want to steal any of the thunder for this article, with a ton of huge pullquotes or anything like that, so please just go read the whole thing over on Andreas Papathanasis's blog. Rarely do I find myself agreeing with something I read on the internet so much, and I'm curious to see how this line of thinking resonates with the TouchArcade community.

  • Schpank

    I'd tell you how it resonates with me, but I think my post would disappear. 😏

    • Tallgeese

      So... I take it you're a big fan of all things mobile and 100% agree with Eli but are afraid your voice would get lost awash a sea of patrons clapping their hands in agreement?

      • Schpank

        Lol. Yeah something like that...

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Probably something along the lines of how the culmination of all forms of free to play will combine to form Nibiru the destroyer, leading the earth to the fiery pits of hell and if only TouchArcade would stop apologizing for free to play for 30 seconds to see the truth that NASA is covering up everything and the moon landing is a lie.

      • Tallgeese

        -Haha, The Washington Post had a pretty good article up today about Nibiru. I must be too far out of the news cycle... Anyways if Lord Nibiru has been summoned and indeed *is* riding his planet here to do battle with us, I think The King of Monsters has our back.
        -Just to be safe though, I think we should convert all of our liquid assets in Godzilla action figures, as they will surely be our new currency. Sure the last few modern Godzilla games I played were not super great, and I too am skeptical of F2P (Terra Battle, Does not Compute, and A-rank games I got when they were free notwithstanding).
        -It's not the NES era anymore and the market is oversaturated so I can understand why they're banking on F2P. Previously we had just a few games to choose from but now we have so much choice we have to pan the river to look for the nuggets.

      • Spudboy

        People think a man landed on the Moon? I hope no one is that gullible.

      • Schpank

        Good news, all your (unsolicited?) efforts have paid off! I'm about to install "the next big thing" and experience the fuuutre...

      • Tallgeese

        Haha, That's dolphinitely one of my least favorite ad campaigns. It's completely shallow. Sorry to interlope but twitter tells me it's #NationalHugDay, and I'm usually against these new national days, but if I can't get two people on the internet to make a hug baby, I'll have to wait until #NationalTouchButtsTogetherDay...

  • nonen

    "...I work at a standing desk, so I was already standing"

    Plot twist! *clapping intensifies*

    In other news, Clash Royale truly is a great example of mobile done well. Can't wait to see how the global release goes.

  • skylerolson

    Clash Royale is going to be huge.

    • DemoEvolved

      Super huge

      • Stormourner of the Nature

        colossally huge

  • XperimentalZ Games

    These days I'm playing Heroes of the Storm. My body would collapse if I had those 3-4h sessions on a mobile device. For me, PC/console/mobile are different markets and (most of the time) games should be designed specifically for each of them. I always had trouble understanding the desire to have PC-style games converge to mobile.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Heroes of the Storm is really good! I typically play tanky guys in MOBA's and I love how body blocking is so much more effective in HoTS. That half price sale they did was sure expensive...

      • XperimentalZ Games

        Haven't played enough MOBA to compare, but body blocking sure adds a nice dimension to the game, it feels like football at times heh.

      • garbui

        Vainglory has body blocking! 🙂

    • Poo

      For me I have three kids 5 and under. Getting time to sit at my laptop to play games or even a console is difficult and if it happens days in a row gets the fury of the wife. So I can get on my iPad through out the day without it making too much of a difference. But what I want is to play my PC games. I would give a kidney to play fallout 1,2 and tactics on my iPad. Or to properly mod Minecraft. Dead state. Star bound. Wasteland 2. Tons of games. I would even get a Bluetooth mouse if i had to. It takes a good long while to save and shutdown or move a computer off your lap. Even the old PC ports in the App Store now save quicker. I have a laptop but can't carry it with me to every room through out the day.

      • XperimentalZ Games

        I completely understand your frustration but on a port from PC to mobile, controls are often so clunky and those games are hardly made for short sessions. Odds are that if your wish was granted, you'd end up unsatisfied nonetheless.

      • Poo

        I don't mind clunky. Cataclysm is super awkward and I love that one.

      • XperimentalZ Games

        I understand and you represent a segment of the market that will stay around, making place for niche games, which is awesome (I love making niche games). I think that this discussion is more about explaining why Clash Royal has a higher potential to become a big hit on mobile compared to games better suited for other platforms. And I still think that you should chose your kidney :P.

      • Poo

        I totally agree that those games are King on mobile, I just don't was the small group of us that want something deeper to get forgotten in the rush to make the next hit 1 minute game. Crash lands is amazeballs.

      • jForsythe

        For me I would love harpoon to be ported to iPad would work easy on a touch screen too.

    • nini

      Same logic drives us to lose our collective minds when we find an emulator hidden someplace on the App Store, we just like the idea of having the same game everywhere on any device.

      • XperimentalZ Games

        Good point, though it's hard to put old console games with simple controls in the same bag as modern complex PC games. And old console games did feel much like actual mobile games so there's a natural association between those 2 groups.

  • spedav

    CR is gonna be huge. And as a hardcore console gamer I agree that CR is a superior mobile play game compared to Vainglory.

    Yes Vain is superior in almost every way yet it is not suited well for mobile. I tried it a few times and was like I don't have time for these kinds of matches and deleted it straight away. CR instantly drew me in and got me hooked. I love the quick exciting matches. A loss, while disciplining, is no big deal as your average game is around 2 1/2 minutes.

    It's a great example of mobile game perfection. Provides entertainment for casual to very hardcore gamers, quick matches, great strategy, and a fair free to play mechanic.

    • garbui

      With respect, it is not suited well for mobile, *for you*. There are many core gamers who have made Vainglory a success, and it's not because the game compromises for mobile. The app description even states, it's an uncompromisingly core game.

      While VG isn't a good choice for 5-10 minute sessions, if you have an hour ore more to burn, it's an amazing feat to whip our your phone and play a competitive MOBA. I actually played it during the tense 10+ hours I was waiting for my son to be born. It helped me stay awake (and it was a lot of fun, too).

      • DemoEvolved

        If I know up front in gonna commit to 1 hour of play, then I'm not playing an iOS game.

      • flashbackflip

        Why not? There are plenty of deep ones which have all the mechanics intact (albeit cosmetics) like Enemy Within, for example

  • TokyoDan

    I can't understand the need to fill every two to four minute idle period during our busy days with a real/pure/perfect mobile game. Intead of distracting ourselves with a mobile game why not look around at people, scenery, just ponder things. Are we afraid to be alone with ourselves?

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      What an exceptionally pretentious remark. Maybe people are doing those things, while also entertaining themselves with a little game on their phones? Maybe they have no interest in doing those things you listed? Maybe they are playing against someone across the planet from them, who they never would have met otherwise, and are currently forging a new relationship that could be incredibly meaningful and long-lasting in their greater life all through the mind-blowing ability to connect with other people through the internet and mobile devices. But of course someone like you would just look at them as "wasting their time on their phone."

      • flashbackflip

        Though pretentious, it still gives some food for thought. I lived in megapolis (Moscow) from my childhood and i can tell the trips around city changed drastically, especially on metro. In times before mobile i was able to get acquainted with some people (girls mostly lol) starting with eye contact, but now it is kinda impossible as all the attention of my co-travelers are sunk into their screens

      • http://azumachogames.com/ Tokyo Dan

        Jareed. You are pretentious for saying my remark was pretentious. I think there is a lot of truth in my remark. But like both you and curtneedsaride mentioned, there are other reasons to play a mobile game.

      • http://azumachogames.com/ Tokyo Dan

        And jared, of course you are pretentious. you're part of the Touch Arcade crew.

    • nini

      So you're fine with downing hours per game session at a PC or console but a few idle minutes on mobile is somehow worse?

      • Tallgeese

        Sometimes it's easier to play than think/be alone, it depends on my mood really. Almost everything has an opportunity cost tho...

    • DemoEvolved

      If rather not stare at a roll of toilet paper for 2.5minutes with my mouth agape in thought. Ymmv

  • curtneedsaride

    I guess these hardcore mobile titles make me a non-hardcore-title-lover...? I'd still rather sit down with my Final Fantasy VII or Dragon Quest VIII port and leisurely adventure around. At least Shaun would understand.

    • Poo

      Totes agree.

    • nini

      i've found there's many definitions of "hardcore" for gaming as there are genres, you're not more special for liking the games you like, you still get to be hardcore.

  • JustARookie

    This guy pisses me off almost as much as people who claim mobile is trash. Vainglory is nearly "unplayable"on mobile? What?! While I do agree that clash royale is good, I wouldn't even place it in the same league as VG. Especially when talking about "hardcore" gaming. And another thing: towards the end, the blogger says that he believes CR will do better than VG. In the current AppStore, it will. Because almost everyone has played CoC at one point or another they'll probably try CR. Usually when a game gets popular (especially free, mobile games like Game of War and CoC) it's often because the game is much more casual.

    • garbui

      Unplayable for him, maybe. I'd rather learn how to knit yarn than play Clash Royale. To each his own.

  • Brendan Charles

    Great, have fun with that- but I'll have no part in it. I'm sure I'm an old geezer trying to hold on to an era of games long past- but I can't get in to MOBAs at all. I don't do any kind of online gaming, and don't really feel the need to.

    Mobile gaming is big for me because it replaced PC/Console gaming which I have no longer have time for... but I still try to look for the same old experience. Games like KOTOR, XCOM, Walking Dead, and Implosion are the kind of games I look for... you know, with a story.... and you don't need an internet connection to play... and there's no useless IAPs.

  • garbui

    I am not particularly impressed with Andreas' analysis. He confuses core gamers with pro gamers. Yes, a *professional gamer* who competes in the eSports scene is not going use a phone. There is, however, a tremendous argument for the core gamer that wants a core-gaming experience on their phone.

    The fact that core gamers play near their PCs is a testament to the excitement that touch-based controls add to the MOBA genre. Andreas just doesn't get it. And, as Eli likes to say, that's fine. Find another game!

  • garbui

    I am not particularly impressed with the analysis. He confuses core gamers with pro gamers. Yes, a professional gamer who competes in the eSports scene is not going use a phone. There is, however, a tremendous argument for the core gamer that wants a core-gaming experience on their phone.

    The fact that core gamers play near their PCs is a testament to the excitement that touch-based controls add to the MOBA genre. The dev just doesn't get it.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I'm not sure why Disqus keeps kicking this comment to the approval queue, I see you've submitted it a couple times. Sorry about that.

      • garbui

        Thanks 🙂 I didn't think it was a bad-boy comment..

    • DemoEvolved

      A pro gamer might actually play this game. And I would watch. Heck I already watch the in app replays more than I'd care to admit. Brilliant!

    • flashbackflip

      Touch controls surely adds for MOBAs, but VG is not one of those. FatesForever was. I DO hope some devs will think more about TOUCH control instead TAP control

      • flashbackflip

        By 'tap' i mean 'tap the screen button' style interface which is an uninventive shame imo

      • garbui

        I didn't play FatesForever, but you're right, the gesture controls were ambitious. That may have been part of the reason it flopped, though. The tapping is more precise for eSports, and a few characters do have skillshots, FWIW. I wish FatesForever had made it.

      • flashbackflip

        I think you are right in that e-sportsmen are more used to clicking thus easier transition from PC to mobile, but FatesForever flopped as there were no solid strategy with them. They just made a game to be cool, not to dominate the genre. And VG devs had their plan on getting e-sports as their main venue from the start i think.. Oh well.. The genre is still young on mobile. There is hope we will see some cool hybrids sooner or later

  • madreviewer

    Said it first, freemium is getting trickier. Man what a bright future. The safe boat is sinking.
    Yes!!!!
    Example dh4 vs dh5

  • madreviewer

    The reason game loft killed the events-
    That's one of the Benefits of freemium
    Is that a sequel will have to compete against it's predecessor- many people have access to it, and will hardly restart at zero for some gimmick.

  • Themagicjesus

    Free to play iap filled mobile games will never be hardcore in any way shape or form. Still haven't played clash royale but as someone who considers games like clash of clans complete garbage and a big negative influence on the status of games in general I'm sad to see them getting more "praise".

    No decent developer would intentionally make people who want to play their game wait, and fifteen years ago people would've laughed at you if you tried to explain why timers are normal or a good thing or whatever sugar coating you put on it

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I don't know, 15 years ago if you told my 17 year old self I could play limitless video games on my cell phone for free I'd be pretty excited about that.

      • Themagicjesus

        Of course, there are masterworks on mobile. I am not trying to argue that. But I am saddened when most of the "top games" are clash of clans rip offs and you have to wade through the game of wars and other celebrity endorsed nonsense to find one that isn't begging you to spend money to get a limited number of resources/intentionally created so that you cannot play after a certain amount of time.

        I am also one of those people who thinks it's just silly to put mobas on mobile when a Kbm setup is better in every way. Often games of league come down to a few select choices that cause the victor, how can I trust my phone and touch controls to make the accurate press when the screen is 1/10th the size (I am using a 6+ mind you)? How do I know the game isn't weighted so the guy on the other end isn't just going to win because he bought twenty dollars worth of power ups? I can't trust mobile developers nowadays to not be influenced by this when the ones making the most money are the ones that cause you to seek out that dopamine and then yank it away because they want you to spend more money.

        Games like Crashlands are perfect. One appropriately priced purchase and I get the whole game with no worry that it's intentionally imbalanced (which is a sad thing to have to worry about) to make me want to "speed things up". Maybe I'll change my tune once I play Crash Royale but I am highly skeptical. How am I not just losing because the other guy has twenty stronger units because he sits there playing it all day? That isn't fun to experience, play, or even have to worry about.

      • Schpank

        There's a flawed thread that runs through a lot of these arguments. An assumed position that f2p games are equal in quality to premium games, therefore who wouldn't want all these "free" games? Would you be as excited if you told your 17 year old self you could play limitless compromised games aimed at soaking you at every opportunity?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Could I still play games for free forever and just download new ones whenever I get tired of the ones I don't like?

      • Schpank

        Sure, if you could call it 'play' in the traditional sense. Many would call the experience of avoiding IAP, 'grinding', 'waiting', 'tediously applying hacks and exploits'... If an endless stream of that kind of game experience is what floats your boat, sail on.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Ok but I'm 17 and have a PlayStation with like three games because I'm in school and can't work much so that sounds pretty good still because I can play them for free and just delete any I don't like right?

      • Schpank

        Obviously the demo you're catering to.

  • Modjular

    Maybe casual gamer needs to be redefined. At least in the current TA clan, there's tons of people who are very dedicated to the game, but definitely don't put more than 1-2 hours into the game every day.

  • Fishdix

    I preach this stuff live, daily on mobcrush. Your sentiments are entirely correct. Thank you for continuing to speak the truth and live in the future.

  • delirium38

    Really cool thing is that Quite a few titles released in 2001 can now be played on a mobile device, like GTA3, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X.
    Yes, they still cost money, but aside from Hearthstone I cannot think of one FTP game that can match the quality of these games.

  • speedyph

    LONG LIVE MOBILE GAMING ❤️❤️❤️

  • socalledsin

    Great post, and I am loving the game far more than I expected. It feels fresh in the sense that it isn't just a PC game crammed into mobile. Now I want a mobile MMORPG that can scratch those itches in the same way.

  • jForsythe

    Do you play your mobile games standing up.?