The Inconvenient Truth: A Mobile Gamers Unknown Nightmare
I know I know, some of you are probably thinking to yourself; “what the f*** does this have to do with gaming?” well as much as some “gamers” don’t like to admit it, smart phones are some of the most popular and accessible “consoles” in todays market. Games like Candy crush, Angry Birds and Words With Friends might not be considered “real” gaming to some, but have a daily user limit way higher than some triple A console titles! Some mobile games such as Valor, and Ingress have massive “out of game” guilds and forums dedicated to them and with the release of Pokemon Go, with an unprecedented amount of downloads (over 200 million) I think we can all agree that mobile gaming is taking off! And it’s time for people to come to terms with that fact!
The list of good quality mobile games is growing and spanning many genres eg, shooters, racing games and puzzle games, I was generally surprised when I started looking into this topic to see such variety in smart phone gaming… games like; Asphalt Airborne 8, BadLands, Fallout Shelter, Geometry Wars 3, Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft, The Room series, Retro First, _Prism, Toca Blocks and hundreds more. Even GTA San Andreas has a mobile port along with the MineCraft Pocket Edition, and Final fantasy, street fighter and Mortal Kombat X.. far be it the functionality of some of these games may not translate well over to the mobile hand set they are still playable and even extremely enjoyable. The one thing I had the share with you was the trailer I came across for CrashLands, absolutely hilarious, and a great example of the fun you can have with a more playful medium:
Given recent events in the smart phone world *cough* Samsung *cough* exploding phones, not to mention the controversial anti-headphone jack movement… I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on what separated a good Gaming Phone from your day to day smart phone experience… The first thing I think is important to look into is the Operating System, there are… well… Three main smart phone OS’s on the market at the moment, Android (Linux based) almost in some ways open source OS, Windows 8/10 (a part of the Microsoft family of operating systems) and of course the “trend setting” IOS Apple Macs iPhone Operating system.
Now when I think of mobile games I think of Android as being the most prominent of OS’s. This is mainly due to the fact that Android happens to call home to a much larger range of devices than IOS, given that IOS is only found on the iPhone, and the Windows OS’ app store “Although it’s come a long way” is rather empty in comparison. But is it the best OS for gaming? While the selection of games to choose from is enthusiastically large, with over 2 million apps in total (and that’s not including the uncountable amount that you can unofficially download from, well, anywhere) I would say that 20% of games available to Android users would actually be of a decent quality. A lot of free to play android games are specifically designed to spam advertising and encourage micro transactions, while even some of the paid options are just not up to the standard that you would expect. This is mainly due to the fact that Android’s developer policy is rather lax and almost anyone with a little coding knowledge can make an app for any Android device, and maybe the fact that you’re only paying in the range of .99c – $5 for your gaming experience! This “Open Source” approach continues to disappoint developers due to the massive amount of devices using Android, and as a developer you need to take into account all the idiosyncrasies each device has, this can be an extremely costly consequence, especially given that IOS users tend to spend more on micro transactions then Android gamers. This is why developers tend to build games for IOS then “maybe” port to android at a later date. With this in mind the question still stands; is Androids OS geared for gaming? Does it deliver the better gaming experience? The answer to this will come after we take a look at IOS.
IOS, with their Walled Garden, have been criticised immensely by app devs and phone enthusiasts for years, but the approach seems to work for them. Most devs will tell you the main reason they release games on iPhone before Android is that they only have to test for maybe up to 10 devices, and that’s only if they want to support older handsets. This also gives them the time to provide glitch fixes before releasing to the masses on Android. It also gives them the time to earn some cash before investing in an Android release. As mention earlier IOS users are statistically more likely to spend larger amounts of money on in game transactions and even on one off purchases for the app initially. This is mainly due to the fact that an Apple product is a lot harder to crack and hack, whereas Android users are far more likely to pirate games and illegally download them. Over all this gives gamers on IOS a much better experience even though they are more or less being used as lab rats for the eventual Android release. Surprisingly, the Apple App Store as of 2016 estimates around 2 million apps which is on par with the google play store, but due to the “iPhone first” approach most experienced developers and publishers use, the apps on the Apple App store would arguably be of better quality. It’s been said that even though Android is more efficient and “fun” to code for, the iPhone pre-release just makes sense and if a dev makes what money they need before the Android release then more often than not they just won’t bother.. this leaves Android users furious with their chosen devices even though their hardware is likely far more superior than the iPhone and they’re overall user experience is vastly more personalised, open and free, Android just doesn’t seem to get what it deserves when it comes to quality game releases.
Now you probably haven’t asked yourself why I’m not talking about Windows phones but I’ll tell you anyway.. the focus for the Windows model historically hasn’t been on gaming or fun, their main focus has been on user interface, work projects, professional networking and over all they have professionals in mind when designing their phone, you know “big wigs, business men/women, and large companies. Back in 2014 MS released the meagre figure of 500,000 Apps for mobile devices in their App store, now since the announcement of Play Anywhere, and the success of the Windows 10 OS family you would assume that that figure has risen a little. Well, MS isn’t offering a total figure as of 2016 so we are left to assume that devs are just not interested as of yet. In saying this the Play Any Where approach might pay off for them in the long run with tablet users..
So overall it seems that IOS is the winner in the software race, but what about hardware? Even though Android gets the shit end of the stick in regards to releases dates and spammy shitty clone games, hardware is where we have the advantage. Or is it?
We will have a look at some of the most popular Android phones in circuit at the moment and see how they match up to the last few iPhone releases.
Over all it seems like Android has the hardware side of things covered with the Asus Zenfone and the Galaxy S6 edge standing out with high CPU power and plenty of RAM, the screen size is also very suited to gaming with these models. It is worth mentioning that it is difficult to compare Apple architecture to the Android Phones due to the differences in approach with the technology in both hardware and software, but over all you can see that hardware capacity on the Android side of things not only gives you more choice in devices (which as mentioned earlier is a downside from a developer standpoint) but also provides the better CPU, RAM and storage options with most Android devices giving you the option to add additional storage. The Nokia Lumias are probably the best Windows handsets and as you can see they don’t fair to badly either, I know HP has a windows phone as well and they seem pretty powerful from what I have heard.These and heaps more smart devices can be compared at https://www.productchart.com/, unfortunately, the prices are in US so don’t get too excited, also note I left the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 out for obvious reasons…
So generally you would have a better gaming experience on Android if developers were a little more interested in releasing apps on the platform, but if you’re the kind of person that just can’t wait and phone gaming is a priority for you, jump on to the iPhone band wagon and get yourself an iPhone 7 (when they aren’t sold out!).
About: Simon Mawson
- Previous Retro Domination Podcast Episode 92 – The Nintendo Gamecube
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