Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bad Mobile Land

I've said before that I like mobile games, but I feel like they will be forever jammed into their awful, freemium, pay to win, ad-riddled format due to their nature. No other "platform," if you'd call it that, is as saturated in 'in-game purchases' as mobile games. It's understandable, since they offer a different experience and mostly target a completely different audience. They don't have to worry about creating games that will convince you to buy a smart phone because basically everyone under 40 already has one - they just have to throw games at people until one sticks.

and some are unfortunately way too sticky

It was undeniably uncomfortable to hear about major gaming companies planning to release more games on mobile. When we're talking about mobile games, it is entirely reasonable to assume it will be "Free*" with more in-app purchases than you can handle. Nintendo released two free to download Pokemon games in their store for the 3DS that follow the same model, it's not unreasonable to assume their mobile games will do the same thing.

pokemon trozei- I mean, shuffle

They aren't going to be making mobile games so that they can break out of the stereotypical freemium game styles and revolutionize what we know about mobile gaming, no, they're making them to take advantage of that model. If it wasn't profitable, people wouldn't be doing it en masse as they are.

It doesn't help when you realize that they are putting less resources into making actual games in order to chase this freemium mobile gaming model. A browse around your local app store tends to come up with nothing but sorrow and despair. It makes the entire aspect of a legitimate mobile gaming format seem hopeless.

But amidst all the pay to win, wait ten days for your action to complete, 'any purchase will remove all ads' games, there are a couple gems. I found one such gem a few days ago.

In Badland, you play the role of a fuzzy circular creature with little wings. Your goal is to traverse through automatically moving stages with different obstacles without getting crushed, shredded, stuck, or just falling too far behind. There are different power-ups that range from completely necessary to complete the level to something you're actually supposed to avoid grabbing because it will cause you to fail. A particularly fun aspect of the game is that you frequently get a handful or a boat load of little clones, usually to help increase your chances of surviving some of the more perilous obstacles.

complete with terrified faces when they realize they are going to die

Badland started as a mobile game, but it was so stylized, fun, and interesting, that it's developing full console versions. I'm pretty sure it's already out for PS4 and XBox One, and coming out on Wii U this summer.

A lot of games come out for mobile and end up being just the right amount of addicting, cute, stylized, easy or fun in order to become wildly popular. The thing about Badland, though, is that it probably didn't become very popular among the Candy Crush, Bakery Story, Angry Birds crowd - Badland is actually a good game. It's not the first of its kind, but it does what it does very well.

being bigger gives you more push and pull against obstacles

It came out two years ago and I didn't even find out about it until recently, but it's received several awards and has had millions of players. That's the part that kind of bothers me - we won't stop having candy, birds, and farms stuffed down our throats, but great games like these are more than metaphorically hidden gems - they are stuck underneath piles of freemium rip-offs, creating the illusion that the "games" section of the app store is nothing but a black pit of despair.

also sort of a pit of despair

You have to already know what game you're looking for in order to find it. To find good games on mobile, you have to purposefully research for them - and still, amid the reviews for decent mobile games, they still plug candy crush and bejeweled as if there is any person looking for mobile game recommendations who hasn't already heard of those.

Badland has a few ads in their free version, with a regular and premium version. Just mentioning that a game has a purchasable version tends to invoke negative connotations - almost like we forget that regular games basically always cost money. In fact, paying for good games is how we get developers to make more of them.

more flying fuzz balls than we can handle

I'm guilty of this mindset, too. Being so jaded by in-app purchases tends to make us forget that sometimes, an in-app purchase is just paying for a game. The premium version of Badland doesn't give you power-ups or cheats, it just gives you the full game. The free version comes with an ad here and there and the first 40 levels, which is plenty of time to see if you want to buy the full game.

Mobile has the capabilities to support good, legitimate games. I don't think there's anything we could do about the soul sucking success of the pay to win mobile model, but if we ever want to see mobile games become anything more than angry candy farms, what we can do is help support the few actual good games that come out of the woodwork.

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