[Editorial] What is the Future of Mobile Gaming?

Posted on Dec 30 2011 - 12:29pm by Doug Puccetti

This is a question that crosses my mind at least twice a week. Mobile gaming in general has been on an increase since the dawn of Nintendo’s Gameboy and obviously still has a market with the Nintendo 3Ds, Sony Xperia Play and PSP. But what does the future of mobile gaming look like. With decreased sales of the new Playstation Vita, could we start to see mobile gaming move to cellphones and tablets?

Well, we kind of do see mobile games on any marketplace (Yes this includes Windows 7.5 too). Games could include anything from Words with Friends to ShadowGun, I don’t necessarily mean large games like Halo, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. But the games we are seeing now on tablets and cell phones are definitely progressing in the right direction. So the main question is, Will the future of mobile gaming be cellphones and tablets?

Honestly, right now, as much as I would like to say “Were almost at that point” I cant. One major downfall to mobile devices is battery life. My old Gameboy used to last me days (of constant play) before I had to change battery’s, granted they were AA’s not lithium ion but even my Nintendo DS Lite lasts me a few days before I have to charge it. Unlike my cellphone where I make a few calls, bunch of text messages and check my email and I have to charge it by 5pm. I want to be able to feel like I’m playing a mobile game. right now it seems like I’m just playing a game on my phone, in my living room, while its charging. Doesn’t sound to mobile to me…

Other than battery life I think mobile gaming on cell phones is already here. With hundreds of thousands of people playing words with friends and angry birds every day, I would be a lier to say I see no progression. We’re starting to see a dramatic increase of graphically intense games out there as well. Company’s like Gameloft, Madfinger Games and EA Sports are putting out games such as Order and Chaos, A massive multiplayer online role playing game(MMORPG) with decent graphics (bearing the fact that its for a cellphone/tablet) and a growing population; ShadowGun, a third person shooter with benchmark graphics and exhilarating game play; and now Madden 12, bringing the console experience to your cellphone/tablet. There are so many other games I could mention like Modern Combat 3, Plants vs. Zombies, Fruit Ninja, N.O.V.A. 2, Bejeweled 2, etc. Granted there are so many games out there, some of them lack one thing.Decent controls when playing on a tablet.

I’m not talking about casual games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Plants vs. Zombies, I’m talking about shooters and some RPG’s. Games like Modern Combat 3 are amazing. Game play is great, multiplayer is fun and graphics are awesome but I always feel weird trying to hold my tablet like I do my phone. Trying to use the ‘Joystick’ function just comes un-natural on such a large screen and takes a while to get used to. It honestly would be so much easier if I could just use a mouse and keyboard (Either the one on my Asus Transformer or using a Bluetooth (and in some cases USB) mouse and keyboard). I know some of you are going to say ‘If you want to use a mouse and keyboard why don’t you just use a PC?!’ The answer is this, I do use a PC for gaming(Along with an Xbox), that’s why I am so used to using a mouse and keyboard. It would just make things so much easier if programmers allowed the controls to be mapped to a keyboard and mouse.

Some of these games I play on my tablet are awesome but I shy away from playing them often because its lack of controls. Granted someone who has a mouse and keyboard might have the upper hand in multiplayer compared to someone who uses just the virtual joysticks. Maybe there are ways around that. For example, in Modern Combat 3 and most shooter games there’s an auto aim assist option. Developers could disable that feature for users who have a keyboard and mouse activated. And besides, this would open up so much more screen real estate for users and developers alike. I want to be able to see the game I’m playing, I am a consumer too.

Maybe in the future we will start to see updates and future games starting to become more user friendly, but until that time I think battery life is our man objective. Let me know your opinions in the comments below.