Category Archives: Editorials

The gaming world was abuzz recently with the news that Steam would be killing its controversial Greenlight program in favor of Steam Direct, where developers would pay a one-time fee to just get their app on Greenlight. But that fee has been discussed as being up for debate – and it could be as high as $5,000. This is horrifying to me, as it has the potential to scare away a lot of developers who have more talent than resources. And crazily, I've seen people say that they want a similar system on the App Store to help with the problems that come with shovelware plaguing the stores. But I don't think shovelware is quite the crisis other people say that it is, and I fear any move to curtail it by making it harder to access stores will have negative consequences. Plus, I think there's a moral objection to the idea of being an even stricter gatekeeper. ..

Opinion: Nintendo Might Have Finally Hit the Mobile Jackpot with 'Fire Emblem Heroes'

Just under two years ago, Nintendo announced a partnership with DeNA to bring their games to mobile devices. It was a huge deal for two reasons. First, Nintendo would be developing games for non-Nintendo hardware for the first time since the 1980s. Second, they would be entering a sector of the games industry that they had very little experience in, one that presents a very different challenge from what they might be used to. Depending on who you asked in the wake of that announcement, Nintendo was either going to completely change the mobile market, or totally sell out their cherished brands to the free-to-play mobile devil...




The History of Mobile Gaming Is Dying, and Only You Can Save It

I can vividly remember the first time I ever played a game on iOS. I was going to see my oldest brother at Durham University, in the coldest and wettest corner of England. It was the Winter of 2008 - I was only twelve years old - and my dad had recently bought the new iPhone 3G. In the evening, and after endless persuasion, I finally convinced him to download a couple of applications - namely Cube Runner [Free] and Tap Tap Revenge - from the recently released store, and managed to snare the device off him for a few minutes. I know it is horrendously cliché, but I instantly fell in love with the iPhone. While the Wii had given me a brief impression of gyroscopic controls, this was my first exposure to a truly capacitive touchscreen, and being able to access these games from nothing other than the hotel WiFi was incomprehensible to my young and highly impressionable gaming mind. However, while Cube Runner is inexplicably still available to play on the App Store today, the original Tap Tap Revenge is not. Like it or not, without some questionable tinkering to my device, I can never relive those first moments of playing that game...

Notice something missing from Super Mario Run [Free]? It's ReplayKit. You probably didn't, which is a shame because Super Mario Run would have been a fantastic flagship game for ReplayKit Live. This was the first Mario game released on a non-Nintendo system, after all. This was a watershed moment for both Nintendo and mobile gaming history. And it was a perfect moment to get people hooked into streaming from their mobile device using a feature specifically introduced in iOS 10 to do just that. Instead, we get nothing. And it's become the sad state of affairs for gaming features on iOS...

Among the mobile gaming enthusiast community here at TouchArcade, it seems like ads are a hot topic recently. Flappy Golf 2 [Free] is ad-supported, but doesn't have an ad removal IAP. Sonic CD [Free] was updated to be ad-supported, with outrage over the app inadvertently still showing ads to previous customers at first. The presence of ads in games and the potential inability to remove them is a sensitive topic among our readers. Advertising in the modern era is an interesting topic, because people are increasingly unwilling to pay for content. As well, there are concerns over marketing perhaps spreading its tendrils too far into society, where more aspects of the world are inundated with advertising than ever before. But for mobile gaming enthusiasts, the issue is one of nuisance: ads are annoying and distracting in many games. Many games offer the ability to eliminate ads, but a select group do not. Now as press, I have a different perspective from the average reader: I certainly empathize with folks who hate ads, because they bother me too, and I like ad removal IAPs. But I also know why sometimes games don't have them, and why ads are so prevalent in mobile games, and I want to explain a bit on why things are the way they are...

The Carter Crater: The Nintendo Switch is One More Step Toward the Great Gaming Convergence

The great gaming convergence just took one big step closer to reality with the Nintendo Switch. For a long time, I've been predicting that gaming will advance to a point where the divides between mobile, console, and PC that we have now will just kind of fall away. Eventually, playing a game will just be a thing in the same way that any other form of media is increasingly not locked down. Games have for too long persisted on the difference between platforms, between desktop, console, portable, and mobile. And Nintendo has made a shockingly future-forward move to create a system that is both portable and console. The convergence is coming, and Nintendo is set to hasten it...

Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 has me unhappy, but the misconceptions around it have me angrier. I thought trying to read Polygon talking about mobile games made me angry, but then I read tech journalists totally flounder when explaining what Apple going to Lightning for audio would mean, and it has me furious. Claims of "infinite improvements in sound quality" and that the 3.5mm jack was a "bottleneck for improvements in audio quality." Look, I accept that there are potential benefits to digital connections for headphones, but I am not for intellectually dishonest arguments. And when it comes to removing the headphone jack, there's a lot of garbage being spewed. When Phil Schiller says that it took "courage" to remove the headphone jack, maybe that should have been the thing that convinced you that it was stupid. Or maybe it was the fact that his brain didn't immediately escape his body from having said something so stupid. It's because I think too many people misunderstand the nature of how headphones and digital audio work, making it easy for companies like Apple to claim that removing the headphone jack is somehow better for people. And I don't think that people, even tech journalists that you hope would know better, are idiots. Understanding digital audio and headphones are difficult unless you dive deep into the topics like I have been doing the past year or so, and even audiophiles have plenty of debates over sound-related topics to where getting a clear answer on anything is nigh-impossible. But it's because of this confusion that nobody but mad geeks like me understand why people are getting screwed over, and that Apple can get away with it. Removing the headphone jack isn't all bad, there are some benefits and if you don't mind the drawbacks of Bluetooth audio, it's okay, but people ought to be mad about this...

Foolishly, I believed in the power of Apple TV gaming. Whoops! The number of 4th generation Apple TVs that have been sold is not known – and if it was any kind of earth-shattering amount, Apple would probably let us know. As of now, they're seen as running in 4th in the streaming device market. As well, developers informally polled have given zero indication that Apple TV is a moneymaker for them at all. There's little sign that the Apple TV, nor gaming, has done well. I was perhaps the biggest cheerleader for TV gaming, and, well, I might have bet on the wrong horse. But like a gambler who thinks that the next hand is the big score, I remain somewhat optimistic of a future where Apple TV gaming is a viable force for developers, even if there would have to be some major changes in Apple's tactics...

Earlier today we posted an editorial from our old pal Carter "3.5 Stars" Dotson where he argued that surprise releases, like Pokemon GO [Free] and Day of the Tentacle Remastered [$4.99] as recent examples, are hurtful towards other developers who are carefully planning their release strategy. I actually agree with everything Carter says in his piece. Woe is the developer who has a release date planned well ahead of time only to see some mega superstar game pop up on the scene out of nowhere on the same day and soak up all of the attention. However, I have a different perspective on all of this. I love surprise releases! It's one of the things that drew me into mobile gaming (and TouchArcade itself, for that matter) so many years ago. There's nothing like waking up in the morning and firing up the forums to see dozens of people freaking out because some interesting or noteworthy game unexpectedly hit our beloved mobile platform. ..

One of the great quirks of mobile gaming is the way that so many games can come as surprise releases to everyone. In fact, the two biggest games of 2016 so far were both complete surprises when they were revealed. First you had Clash Royale [Free], which was revealed and soft launched on the first Monday of 2016, with its eventual launch coming unexpectedly on the first Wednesday of 2016, with no warning whatsoever. Then, Pokemon GO [Free], which was quite known, had a surprise rollout, and the eventual world domination that ensued was without warning to seemingly anybody at all. Not even Apple, who had none of the featuring you would expect from a major game like this. While surprises can be really interesting, they have a very interesting secondary impact that I don't think people really consider that impacts the mobile gaming landscape...

The Carter Crater: 'Pokemon GO' Shows Why Nintendo Needs to Go Mobile-First Now

Nintendo should cancel the NX and go exclusively mobile as soon as possible. I admit that is a hot take after a few days of Pokemon GO [Free], but why shouldn't they be making a major mobile push right now? The Pokemon Company releases an app that has server issues, eats your battery, has loads of concerns as to its long-term depth being a more shallow experience than Ingress [Free], whose database it capitalizes on. That's not to mention that the game has had tons of server issues, is only available in a few countries, is a privacy nightmare that's probably sending all your embarrassing photos to your exes, oh and it has gotten absolutely zero acknowledgement of its existence by Apple nor Google. If literally anyone else released a game in this state, it would be a massive failure. None of that mattered: the app shot up to number one in downloads and grossing in the US, and it became a massive cultural phenomenon literally overnight. Nintendo is so popular it doesn't play by any of the rules that everyone else in the market has to play by. Why is Nintendo wasting time trying to sell hardware when they can print money on mobile without even trying that hard?..

E3 and WWDC came and went this week with practically nothing special shown about mobile gaming. Mobile games were invisible from E3 press conferences after only getting cursory mentions last year. E3 press conferences are all flash and spectacle, and I'll admit many mobile games don't do well with flash and spectacle. And the reaction to Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ [Free] before Kingdom Hearts 3 was...not great. But at least Apple, where games are by far the largest category on the App Store, would have some kind of showcase for mobile games? Nope! Games were an afterthought, with the only interesting tidbit about games being a mention of ReplayKit streaming, which it took Mobcrush to explain more about after the keynote. The Platforms State of the Union, which is like the keynote but a hundred times nerdier, had some information on games, but nothing that enterprising developers poring over new release notes hadn't already leaked out about tvOS game controller requirements, ReplayKit, and new Metal graphics features...

We've got a widely diverse audience of readers here at TouchArcade, ranging from hardcore old school gamers, to casual Clash of Clans players, to people in all levels of the mobile game industry. To provide a little something for everyone, we regularly publish content that suits different segments of our audience. That means things like Shaun's fabulous RPG Reload series of articles, guides on various free to play games, buisness-y findings from analytics companies, and tons of other stuff in between- Basically, anything that makes us say, "Huh, that's neat," is fair game if we think someone reading TouchArcade would be into it. Recently that included two different reports on how well mobile is doing, which were predictably totally discounted by commenters insisting that this whole industry is propped up effectively by idiots who don't know any better spending money on IAP. This raises the question: If gaming is a hobby you enjoy, and as part of that hobby you're buying gems in Clash Royale, lives in Candy Crush, gold in Game of War, or any other similar purchase in other games, how is that any worse than buying consumable items in any other hobby? (Hint: It's not.)..

A debate on YouTubers, let's play videos, and how they affect developers has been raised by one of the developers of That Dragon, Cancer, and while I think there's cogent arguments for developers negatively affected by the current status quo, I don't think they're strong enough to change the current, albeit chaotic system. ..

Every time we attend any kind of event where we're meeting tons of indie developers excited to show us their games, I always find myself thinking, "Man, I should write a guide on how to pitch your game." I eventually decide not to do it, as I really don't want it to feel like I'm "outing" anyone who had a particularly bad demo, so I'll just lead with this: If any of this sounds like anything you've done, please don't take it personally. As far as I know, no one has ever written a book on attending an event like GDC, and even if they did, you've been (understandably) too busy crunching to build your games to read it. The goal of this whole thing isn't to make anyone feel bad, but instead, making your time at events more impactful- Particularly when meeting with the general games media who might straight up just not care about your mobile game unless you've got an incredibly compelling pitch. Additionally, I don't pretend to have all the answers, this is largely just based on years of real-world instances that have made us not really care about a game versus really wanting to know about everything a particular developer is up to. If you disagree, that's cool, the goal here is to just help developers out...

What Is Gameloft's Position in the App Store of 2016, When "Having a Game That's Sort of Like GTA" Isn't Enough Anymore?

I don't think I'll find anyone who will argue with me when I say that the App Store of 2016 is a crazy place. The fun thing about being involved in the world of the App Store since before there even was an App Store is just how deeply I can appreciate how insane things have gotten. For this particular story, let's rewind the clocks back all the way- When the App Store was new, and most of the games were supremely basic. We're talking solitaire games, tilt-controlled mazes, and "games" which effectively amount to toy apps that used the touchscreen in weird ways like Koi Pond. Gameloft, believe it or not, played a massive role in legitimizing the App Store as a platform for "full" game experiences through rapid-fire releasing loads of games which at best were highly "inspired," and at worst, were straight up clones...

Pay-to-win is a flawed concept, overused by critics of free-to-play games. It's true that to reach the top levels of many free-to-play games, you'll have to spend money. But these games are hardly a direct correlation between money spent and top players. And where do you draw the line for someone spending money on a hobby they enjoy, which is what many of these games provide?..

Developer John Kooistra and his studio Cat in a Box Games go way, way back to the earliest days of the App Store. His debut title Blue Defense! [$0.99] reminds me of how fun those early days were, when quirky new experiences were dropping all the time taking advantage of the novel features found on the iPhone. Blue Defense! was quite successful and Kooistra released a bunch more iOS games over the next couple of years, like the sequel Blue Defense: Second Wave! [$2.99], Blue Attack! [$1.99], Red Conquest [$0.99], and my personal favorite the action RPG Fastar! [$1.99]. Hidden Games may not be quite as well known as John Kooistra, but you've likely heard of them by way of their excellent 2010 horror game Prisoner 84 [$2.99]. They've also released several other cool games, like Air Cadets [Free], Cabby [$2.99 / Free / Free] and Firewall [$1.99]...

Talking a lot about Vainglory [Free] recently has me curious as to what the future of it and games like it, versus something like Supercell's take on MOBA/CCG multiplayer in Clash Royale, will look like. On one hand, I really like the idea of Vainglory. I like the idea of mobile being the home of not just games that you can play while on the bus or on the toilet, but being the home to any sort of game. I like that you have a game you can play on your iPad for hours on end. I think that most mobile games should keep in mind that a significant portion of the audience is going to be playing them while bored for a few minutes or while they're on the toilet, yes. And even lengthy games should be set up to where someone can drop it for something more pressing with ease. This can even be done in multiplayer games, like the way Call of Champions [Free] instantly subs in bots. Also, not everyone has or wants a PC to game on. There's an audience out there that doesn't mind playing big, long games on their tablets because that's the one form of gaming that they have available to them...

Editor's Notes: Retro Comparisons and Sugar Free Alternatives

Aside from being crazy about mobile gaming, in my life, I've been on more than a few insane fitness kicks. If you listen to our podcast, particularly older episodes when fellow fitness enthusiast Brad Nicholson was still around, you've probably heard about more than a few of them as we both strived to be just as ripped as... Whoever the heel of the WWE is at the time. My longest, most consistent, and easily the weirdest kick was the keto diet which is basically a more extreme version of what people know as Atkins. It involves eating fewer than 25 grams of carbohydrates in a day with the goal being kicking your body into a state known as ketosis where you're forcing your liver to metabolize fat as your primary energy source. This has a few interesting positive side effects: Since your primary nutrients are fat and protein, you're rarely hungry. Also, since your body is operating on ketones instead of glucose, you never have any kind of sugar low (or high) which means you can exercise for way longer with far better and more consistent energy levels...

Copyright 2014, TouchArcade.com, LLC.