Content of the article: "Let’s move towards console-quality mobile games and away from micro-transaction filled subpar games"
Do you remember the days when gaming was something special and games were something that you bought once and could play and replay as much as you want, and not have to spend another single cent on them? Do you remember the days before games started becoming microtransaction-filled messes? Do you remember when gaming was great? I do. I remember when most popular games were a cinematic feast, with engaging storylines and powerful storytelling, not trashy micro-transaction filled messes out to suck people’s money.
Now, to be fair, there are still games that are cinematic feasts, but those are slowly but surely losing their place in the mainstream, replaced by micro-transaction filled, lower quality games designed to suck people’s money. Consider, for example, mobile gaming, one of only two viable options for handheld gaming in 2021. As of Q3 2020, approximately 385,551 mobile gaming apps were available on the Google Play Store, the world’s largest Android app store. In 2018, gaming apps accounted for 87% of total Google Play revenues. However, the vast majority of Android games are free to play. How, then do they make money? The answer is simple. Advertisements and microtransactions, of which loot boxes are only the most controversial of them. Paid games, while rare and usually rather expensive, are also generally devoid of these functions, and as a result, are generally of higher quality, and hew closer to the console gaming experience. Consider, for example, that Android ports of earlier Grand Theft Auto games have existed for years, and that Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and IX, as well as Grid Autosport, have all been ported to the Android platform. This shows that mobile gaming can be an equal to PC and console gaming, if given enough resources. So why don’t we see more such games? Why don’t we see Android ports of the likes of Watch Dogs or The Witcher 3 or the Yakuza series or even a watered-down mobile version of Cyberpunk 2077? The only answer I can think of, is that mobile gamers just aren’t seen as a viable audience. And the biggest reason for that, is all the hypercasual mobile games on the market, a step down from even the likes of Fortnite and Genshin Impact. Though these games do obviously have an audience, and can stay, the problem comes in the fact that these games are absolutely overrepresented, both in terms of sheer numbers and visibility, and console-quality games are left to effectively fend for themselves in the marketplace.
Some people might argue that the main target market of mobile gaming is casual gamers. While this is true, we must also consider the fact that if you want to game on the go, you either have to settle for a subpar mobile game ecosystem, purchase a $329 or $469 Nintendo Switch or, if you want to take advantage of the vast library of PC games, a GPD Win that can easily cost over $1000, well out of the reach of a lot of younger people with tighter budgets. The discontinuation of the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita marked the end of an era for handheld gaming and drew the curtains on a golden age in handheld gaming. This is a major disservice, especially when you consider the fact that even midrange smartphones can run console-quality games, which begs the question, why aren’t more developers seeing mobile gaming as the handheld equivalent to PC gaming? Why must mobile gamers content themselves with lower quality games filled with microtransactions and advertisements? Our phones cry with their wasted potential and us serious mobile gamers beg for something better. The studios that treat mobile gaming as an equal to PC and console gaming will have the support of a generation of gamers for whom their main gaming device is the smartphone for years to come. The absolute number of gamers might not be as big as the masses of casual gamers, but I do believe that these gamers will be loyal fanatics to the studios that treat them right for years to come.
So, how do we actively court the future hardcore gamers? I believe the answer lies with marketing. Despite the inroads made by companies like Asus, Xiaomi and ZTE in mainstreaming gaming phones, and marketing them towards hardcore gamers, Google still doesn't see the value in actively courting hardcore gamers looking to play the styles of games they have gotten accustomed to playing on their PCs or consoles on their phones. This must change. Console-quality premium games must be put front and center in game recommendations in the app stores. The class of games typified by Genshin Impact and Fortnite can be put in a secondary position, and the glut of hypercasual games should be demoted Sony's PlayStation game store already does this, and Sony still makes a lot of money from PlayStation games. Hardcore gamers are already willing to pay for their games, as the success of the Grand Theft Auto Android ports have shown. It's just that those console-quality masterpieces get buried under the hypercasual games and never get noticed by gamers. If this changes, I am confident that a new generation of hardcore gamers will end up truly falling in love with gaming.
- REQUEST Games with a high production quality like Genshin Impact, Monster Hunter Stories, Dragon Quest VIII, Final Fantasy 15 PE?
- New PS/console player coming from years on PC
- Unpopular opinion: mobile gaming isn’t a bad thing.
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