Showing posts with label Android. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Android. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mobile gaming: perfect example of free 2 play gone WRONG

Free 2 Play /wink
Back when I fought against the free 2 play (F2P) movement for PC gaming it was because I was worried about quantity outpacing quality.  The PC F2P scene fortunately turned the corner towards quality, but another market, mobile gaming, has turned into a classic quantity over quality scenario.  The majority of F2P games for my Android phone are nigh impossible to play due to spam advertising and required micro-transactions.  Most free apps couldn't even be considered legitimate previews of the game and feel more like a mugger trying to get at my wallet.  Mobile gaming makes even the worst offenders in the PC F2P movement look like saints.  If people were up in arms about something like Allods Online, then they'd be stroking out over the state of F2P mobile gaming.

The unfortunate reality is that F2P games on mobile are far more successful through spam advertising and micro-transactions.  The developer ends up making more with these methods than with one-time purchases.  This is mostly because the pricing model for mobile apps is in the basement and if an app is greater than a couple dollars, it is doomed.

I understand developers need to make money and for the mobile space it's easier to follow the trend instead of making a statement with a paid-for only app.  The problem is that both advertising and micro-transactions directly conflict with gaming on a mobile device.  Think of the size of mobile screens and almost always having to reserve space for an advertisement banner.  It is flat out ridiculous in most cases and when that accidental click of an advertisement occurs the player is usually dropped from the game completely.  To note, some games are able to do advertising in a responsible way (like in between turns in Wordfeud FREE).

Secondly, mobile gaming is about quick access and simpler mechanics (which doesn't mean worse games).   The in-app micro-transactions conflict with both of these.  Nothing kills a game worse than spending the first five minutes finding out you really need to spend 99 cents to unlock something to make the game actually playable.  Then another five minutes is spent figuring out which payment service the game is using and by the time it rolls around to game time the player is ready to move on to something else.  Contributing to this further is again the screen size on mobile devices.  Pages for the in-app payments have to almost always be seperate screens, further pulling players away from the game.

These are all reasons as to why I was very happy to read this article and see Rockstar talk about how they are going into mobile to deliver quality games and not just to make money:
Besides, individual markets and platforms aren't something that seems to greatly interest Houser in the first place. "This is my personal opinion, but I think a lot of people in the general mobile industry are more focused on making money than making good products," he commented. "We're a business, too --we have to think about how to build revenue and we value the knowledge you need for that, but we want to conduct business with superior products. Focusing on nothing but business is depressing to me; it's boring. I want people to understand that we make games for more than just to make money."
I believe mobile gaming is going through growing pains and as we see more big developers like Rockstar step in with true, quality games aimed at core gamers we'll see a reduction in the downward spiral of game pricing and F2P mechancis.  The current situation is not sustainable.  Only so much shovelware can exist before the market crashes.  History has taught us this.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Android Game Review: Fortunes of War

Fortunes of War is an asynchronous card game similar to the best-selling Dominion card game. It pits two (or more) players against each other in a game where cards are purchased from a “card market” and then played in turns. Along with a starting deck, cards purchased from the market and wounds received from in-game actions make up a players deck. A game is over when three separate cards become sold out in the market. There is no building of decks before hand and as far as I can tell, the cards available in the market each game are random (except single-player campaign missions which feature the same card set).

The game is a solid time waster and deep enough to provide committed players a long term experience. The fact there is no deck building reduces the barrier to entry for new players, but by no means does it mean the game is easy to pick up. At first look, Fortunes of War is confusing. It will take a new player some time, and really reading up on the tutorial, to get a feel for the game. From there it takes several games to understand how to be competitive.

The game features single-player and multiplayer. I found the single-player fairly difficult, at least in the free version. I eventually beat most of the available campaign missions, but it took dozens of tries. The biggest problem is that the player faces off against multiple computer opponents in most of the missions and those computer opponents are all on one team. This means attacks against the player do not also affect the enemy’s companions (unless the card specifically states it affects all players). The player is often in 3 vs 1 or 2 vs 1 situations which becomes a significant challenge, but I still found myself working to beat the campaign missions over and over. There is a certain addictive, puzzle-solving quality it.

In multiplayer the issue is removed as there are no teams. Every player is out for themselves. I played the free version only, so my multiplayer options were limited and I often failed to find any opponents online via the random start feature. Fortunately there is an option to fill in empty spots with computer opponents.

Overall I was impressed with the game. For the single player experience I would highly recommend the free app to any experienced board or card gamer. It offers a fantastic challenge and if the player likes, there is more single player content in the paid version. The lack of players in multiplayer for the free version made me question whether the paid version would be worth it. If more players or better options to connect players ever become available in the free version, I may look back into playing this game and maybe getting the paid version. There just wasn’t enough multiplayer experience in the free version to hook me.

The free version is available here. The paid version is $2.99 and available here.