Category Archives: Editorials

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...

Congratulations if you like playing games with headphones: your life is about to become more difficult with new changes that Apple is going to introduce. Rumors have it that Apple is going to kill the headphone jack, and possibly make the included EarPods connect via Lightning, or just go with a separate adapter for headphones. Even wireless EarPods are a possibility. Rumors can be wrong, but there's a lot of smoke when it comes to the death of the headphone jack. I always thought that was annoying with the Game Boy Advance SP, and well, gamers, that's your new future...

Carter's Favorite Games of 2015: 'Downwell', 'Her Story', and a Bunch of Games That Aren't 'Land Sliders'

I wanted to just list Land Sliders [Free] ten times, since it truly was one of the best games of 2015, and call it a day on this list. After all, I've got a lot of things that involve drinking, catching up on my various TV backlogs on the Apple TV I got for Christmas, and trying as hard as I can to not suck at Star Wars Battlefront while using a controller on the PC version of the game. And Land Sliders is...prettygreat. I mean, you can control a washing machine collecting socks while dodging bears. How can you not love that? But I've heard your woes, commenters. Here's a list of my favorite and most memorable games of 2015...that weren't Land Sliders...

I have had a love-hate relationship with the clicker genre. I hate them because they're so stupidly simple. But I love them because I can't stop playing them once one sets its hooks in me. The whole point of the games are that they expose how little gameplay you can actually add to a game. They're all about structure, and compel you to play through exploring that structure, increasing your numbers, with the only thing stopping you being how fast you can tap or click, and how you choose to spend your resources in order to build up faster. They're a clever deconstruction of games, and if you acknowledge that small developers are making them and doing wacky things with them, then they're good fun...

Sure, you can look at the news of console sales reportedly having their best months yet, and the news of the Apple TV's games sales being slow as a blow in the face of certain critics whose names rhyme with Farter Botson who claim console gaming is dying and Apple TV gaming is the future. Surely, such hypothetical critics aren't looking good right now, but I don't think that a few weeks of the Apple TV and slow sales are a death knell for Apple's TV box as a gaming platform. I think there's reason to think that potential still exists for it to put a bigger dent in console gaming, and for it to be a viable market for developers...

It's been a little over a month now since the new Apple TV launched. That day, we posted our first impressions of the device, and while there were (and still are) things that seem very dumb about the platform, it felt like there was loads of potential there. Over the last week or so I've been talking to many different developers who have released games or apps on the device, and the general vibe is that if things don't turn around following Christmas, Apple is going to have a real problem on their hands as "successful" apps are making $100 a day on a good day, with revenue continuing to trail off since launch. Everyone I spoke with was reluctant to be specifically sourced (effectively to avoid being the first one to complain), but the games and apps they're responsible for anyone would recognize and they live what one would assume would be healthy lives on the Apple TV top lists. Comparatively, top games on the iOS App Store are making hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a day. Yes, the platform is still young, the install base is likely tiny, but its indicative of a bigger problem in that not even Apple can duplicate their own successes...

If you've watched TV, especially a network like ESPN recently, you've probably seen ads for a game called Mobile Strike [Free] featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Expect to see lots of these, because this is the new game from Machine Zone, aka the developers of Game of War https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/game-of-war-fire-age/id667728512?mt=8. Instead of using buxom women to promote their game, they're going with big, meaty dudes – the Governator is the star of video ads, with beefy football player and human party machine Rob Gronkowski in other ads...

Apologies for the navel-gazing, but I have to talk about the role of the press, and the difference between journalism and gossip in the wake of the Kotaku blacklisting situation. If you didn't follow the story, basically Kotaku published an article talking about how Fallout 4 publisher Bethesda have blacklisted them from PR efforts and early review copies due to them leaking the existence of the game well before Bethesda announced it this year at E3. Ubisoft has also blacklisted Kotaku for revealing details about Assassin's Creed games before Ubisoft was ready to reveal them. "A Price of Game Journalism" reads like it's an attempt to shame these publishers for blacklisting them, and while I'm loathe to defend corporations blacklisting outlets that publish things they don't like, it's hard to blame them for not wanting to work with Kotaku any more if they think they're untrustworthy. There's a fine line between revealing secrets as journalistic endeavors, and what these leaks were: gossip...

My recent piece on Zombie Match Defense's [$0.99] postmortem, and me saying that it shows why decent games at $1.99 aren't viable for developers any more, seemed to ruffle up a few feathers. This is surprising, because I figured that "it's tough to make money at $1.99 unless you have a really special game and get lucky" seemed kind of like common knowledge. Like, humans breathe oxygen, water is wet, cheap paid games stopped being a good business strategy like 4 or 5 years ago. But I got a lot of pushback from smart folks, so I thought I'd elucidate why $1.99 – and really, cheap games in general – are a bad idea for developers, and why I implore developers to charge higher prices, and for players to financially support games they like, especially paid games that aren't at bargain basement prices...

While I'm generally very, very bullish on the future of mobile, more so than most gaming critics and what analysts say, the one thing I'm concerned about when it comes to mobile's future dominance is free-to-play in particular. The interesting concern over the long term for me is this: what happens if monetization techniques stop working? The current methods are used explicitly because they work – which has been determined because of massive amounts of research. But even then, these games work because of a combination of large volume downloads, and converting a small percentage of players into paying players – and a smaller percentage of those into the whales which help sustain the games. ..

The Carter Crater: Too Many Prospectors at the Apple TV Gold Rush?

The day has finally come, and the new Apple TV is finally out. I'm excited not just because I've wanted a great way to play some of the great mobile games on a bigger screen, but also because I think this is a potential turning point for mobile OS devices eventually overtaking dedicated gaming hardware. ..

You hear a lot of talk about the Indiepocalypse lately, to the point that developers now probably need to joke about "hours since the last Indiepocalypse article" counters. But the idea of the Indiepocalypse is the hypothesis that it's impossible for indie developers to succeed on a full-time basis any more because there are too many developers in the market. Which, honestly, has been true for a while now on mobile, and we're getting to a point where Steam has more games released than ever Indies are constantly chasing after the next blue ocean. Is it literally impossible to succeed in the 2015 market? No, not at all. It's still quite possible through dumb luck to make a lot of money. But is it extremely difficult and luck-centric? Absolutely. ..

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