A story came out today that got a discussion going behind the scenes here at TouchArcade, so we thought we’d get our community in on it too and see what you guys think. The story in question is about how a Kickstarter for a Mutant League Football reboot failed miserably, and how the lead on the project Michael Mendheim believes that focusing on a mobile version is the main reason the project failed.
Now, I’m not here to talk about this story specifically, though I do somewhat agree with his statement. Generally, Kickstarter projects are more conducive to PC games, while console or mobile versions are good as a secondary focus. But I certainly don’t think Mutant League Football seeking a mobile version was the only thing that caused it to fail. I mean, it was asking for a fairly large sum of money ($750,000) and the work-in-progress stuff they showed off for the game was less than impressive.
However, like I said I’m not so much worried about that article in particular, but more with the sort of comments that accompanied it. And really, this pretty much applies to any article about mobile gaming on a traditional gaming site like Joystiq, IGN or Polygon. No matter what the article is about, if it has to do with mobile gaming, it’s basically guaranteed there will be comments along the lines of “mobile games aren’t real games" or “I was interested until you said it was for mobile" or “touchscreens will never be good for games" or “mobile games are just something you play on the toilet."
I’m sure you’ve all seen comments like those before, so what gives? Why are some gamers so stubbornly against considering mobile as a true gaming platform?
Now, I’m not saying some of those criticisms aren’t warranted. Touchscreens definitely are not ideal for games that are built for button inputs. However, for many circumstances, virtual buttons have come a long way since the early days of iPhone gaming, and because of this something like GTA: San Andreas ($6.99) is playable enough to be enjoyed on a touchscreen. Is it ideal? No, but in many peoples’ eyes it’s worth the trade-off of having somewhat cumbersome controls to be able to tote something like San Andreas around in their pocket. And, with iOS 7 controllers just starting to arrive, those games designed for a controller will now have an actual controller for those that want it that way.
Of course, games designed to the strengths of mobile devices and built from the ground up for touchscreen or tilt controls have shone the brightest on the App Store. In that sense, mobile gaming has the capability of offering experiences you simply couldn’t have on a traditional gaming console or a PC. Why should these stellar experiences be dismissed simply because they come on a device that’s also your telephone?
Another big argument is that the App Store is flooded with “casual" titles or “toilet games," and that “serious" games are only on dedicated gaming systems. Well, guess what? Even dedicated gaming systems have shovelware and casual games. I remember being so excited in the early days of owning a Wii, but not too long after I’d drop by a game store to check out new games and see nothing but crap lining the shelves. Same with the Nintendo DS at the height of its popularity. Same thing with the NES and Atari 2600 and plenty of other systems. Heck, the shovel ware is basically what caused the great video game crash of the early ’80s. It’s not simply a mobile gaming problem.
How do you counteract that problem? Well, just ignore the crap and focus on the good stuff. That’s what I’ve always done. Developers of all shapes and sizes are going to flock to what’s popular, and right now that’s mobile gaming. Yes, there’s a lot of junk on the App Store, but there’s more than enough gems to keep even the most voracious “hardcore" gamer happy.
I remember being similarly dismissed in my younger years for being a “console" gamer. My first video game system was an Atari 2600 my aunt gave me when I was just 3 or 4 years old. I immediately fell in love with gaming, and have owned basically every major console since then. When I was in middle school, I bought my first PC, and definitely played my fair share of games on it and subsequent PCs. But I’ve always considered myself a console gamer first and foremost. Well, hardcore PC gamers had a similar attitude towards console games. They were “PC gaming for dummies" and the only true place to game was on a PC.
I always wondered, why? Why does it matter where someone chooses to play a video game? Isn’t the most important thing that someone is playing games at all? Whether it’s on a high-end PC or a janky Tiger Electronics LCD handheld, gamers to me are people who play games, period. More than anything I feel sorry for mobile gaming detractors, because in all their stubbornness to dismiss mobile gaming they’re missing out on some amazing video game experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else. To me, gamers aren’t defined by the systems they play on, but will go to the games they want to play regardless of where they are.
I could go on. And on and on and on. But I think you get my drift. So, where do you stand on this? Do you consider mobile gaming as “real" gaming? Or is mobile gaming just some silly distraction when you aren’t busy playing on a dedicated gaming system or a PC? Do you think that mobile gaming will ever get respect from the hardcore gaming crowd? How many more hundreds of millions of people need to be playing games on their mobile devices for the platform to get some respect? It’s baffling to me, and as always, let us know what you think in the comments section below.