Category Archives: The Carter Crater

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. ..

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...

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...

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. ..

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?..

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...

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...

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. ..

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