Mobile gaming has proven to be controversial amongst traditional gamers. Mobile games have come to be associated with exploitative pricing models which prioritize the use of microtransactions and use a variety of methods to incentivize players to spend money on in-game purchases. Often these games draw players in with a free app which lets players experience the game, but then soon start demanding money in order to access more content.
However, there are some mobile games out there which demonstrate the true potential that the platform has. The three games below all exemplify an approach to mobile games which puts them on par with their full-sized counterparts.
X-Com: Enemy Within
The X-Com games are classics on the PC; they can trace their origins back to the earliest days of gaming, and the legendary developer Sid Meier. X-Com: Enemy Unknown was the first fully 3D entry in the series and was just as groundbreaking as it’s predecessors had been all those years ago.
The X-Com games are turn-based action games in which the player controls a squad of soldiers from the elite X-Com unit, Earth’s last line of defense against an alien invasion. As the game progresses, players gain access to a series of upgrades for their squad, ultimately being able to genetically and mechanically augment them.
The X-Com games are an excellent demonstration of how full PC and console titles can be ported to the mobile platform without having to sacrifice any features. Not only is the entire game and its standalone expansion available here in full, and for a fraction of the price of the PC version, the touchscreen controls work perfectly.
Upon its release, Pokémon Go was a phenomenon unlike anything else seen in mobile gaming. The game demonstrated the potential that augmented reality had for mobile games, games which could take full advantage of the ever more powerful camera that smartphones offer. With virtual reality gaining traction on full-sized games consoles and gaming PCs, augmented reality could represent a similar trend for mobile devices.
Pokémon Go further blurs the lines between the game world and the real world by running timed and themed events at different times of year. Niantic, the developers of Pokémon Go, have previously run special events to coincide with Valentine’s Day, and they are also planning a Pokemon Go April fools event.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition
This pocket version of Final Fantasy XV features a stripped-down version of the game. The story has had all the fat trimmed away and the gameplay has been reworked to be more linear in nature. The game plays very well, the touchscreen setup is possibly even better suited to the game’s innovative combat system than a gamepad is.
This approach to porting more ambitious titles to mobile format sets a template for the future that could allow more big-name titles to appear in mobile format and to accurately capture the parent product.
These three mobile games are all perfect examples of the potential that the mobile platform has to offer. As developers continue to find new ways of utilizing smartphones to their full potential as gaming platforms, we are sure to see even more innovation.