The Game Industry 2 Comments

Confessions of a Mobile Gaming Curmudgeon

I’ve been slightly AFK this week trying to get my real life in enough order that I can abandon it again once RIFT Storm Legion launches on Tuesday. The next episode of Cat Context podcast (which will be out on Wednesday) is basically Liore’s Love Letter to RIFT, so I won’t belabour the point here. I will, however, update my expansion bucket list one final time on Monday, and if you’re wondering what the deal is with RIFT you can check out this article I wrote to that effect last week on RIFT Junkies.

By the way, if you have a question for the podcast email it before Sunday to be eligible for one of a variety of beta keys!


Mobile gaming is currently the fastest growing sector of the video games market. It will be worth roughly $30 billion worldwide in 2013, Angry Birds sells themed t-shirts in Walmart, and earlier this year Draw Something went from being brand new to 20 million downloads in five weeks. Clearly this is all pretty serious gaming business.

On Monday I upgraded my phone, which meant a clean hard drive and the need to reinstall all my apps. I immediately added all the things I think are critical: podcast manager, Twitter, the Something Awful mobile app, and Tapatalk (for easier guild forum reading). And yet, I realized, there was not a single game on it.

Somehow this giant market segment has appeared and grown, and I’ve totally passed it by. I’ve easily spent over $100 on mobile apps, mostly on frivolous things like making widgets look better. My phone is always with me. So why aren’t I playing mobile games?

I am fussy about how games profit off of me

I respect the desire of developers to make some money for their efforts and I understand that a free game is only free because of the advertising. I’m fine with an app using those little banner advertisements, but it needs to be presented in a way that doesn’t significantly impact the flow of gameplay.

If your game will not let me play without first signing in to my Facebook or Twitter account, you can fall in a hole. (Tiny Tower, I am talking to you.) If a game spams my notification drawer with ads or dumb fake notifications that I totally should hook up a game with my Facebook account, I will also immediately uninstall it. (Tiny Tower, I am talking to you again arrrrgh you’re so irritating.)

I am fussy about games in general

I grump about Angry Birds sometimes, but it’s mostly just me playing a cranky game hipster for comedic effect. I don’t actually have anything against Angry Birds, or Cut the Rope or any of the other mega-popular titles. For whatever reason, though, I don’t particularly enjoy them either.

I also admittedly have some probably unfair prejudices against mobile games. They generally strike me as being cheap — as in cheaply, poorly made — and overly simplistic. I can’t tell from the Google Play store what will be a good game and what will not, even with ratings and reviews, and I’m curmudgeonly about taking my chances. Even moments before writing this post I checked the “Most Popular Free Games” list and.. number 3 is “Bus Parking 3D”. (Real World Simulation Games: another thing I don’t get)

The exception that proves the rule

I said earlier that I didn’t install a single game on my new phone, but that was a lie. There is one game that is on my “critical phone apps” list, and that’s 100 Floors. It doesn’t require internet connectivity, the ads are unobtrusive, and there’s no twitch gameplay. It uses the features of a mobile phone in a way that doesn’t make me wonder why I can’t just play this on my desktop in better resolution. 100 Floors is a straight up logic puzzle, and I like it very much.

So I guess I don’t get mobile games, but I’d like to. If you have a particular favorite that you think I’d enjoy, I welcome the suggestions. Otherwise, I’ll just be over here readin’ stuff.

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  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    The main reason I don’t play games on my mobile phone is because I want to save battery (for important things like phone calls or surfing the net :) )
    spinks´s last post: Does easier content make for friendlier MMO communities?

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I’m a mobile phone curmudgeon in general; I just have one of those really cheap ones for texting and making important calls when needed, nothing else. I love the internet and gaming in general, but I really hate the thought of doing any of it on a tiny screen and while I’m out and about doing something else. I like to sit back, relax, and watch everything in a gloriously large resolution. I wonder when the “mobile revolution” will catch up with me to the point where I can’t avoid it any longer.
    Shintar´s last post: Advanced Class Bias

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