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Charles

Has Mobile Gaming (Phones) Ruined Video Games?

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Or is it a byproduct of the current state of gaming?

To clarify: When I look at the microtransactions literally drenching gaming, I think of the "freemium" aspect that props up the mobile gaming industry. Although some games, like The Wither 3, offer valuable DLC and other games offer superfluous stuff that isn't really necessary, I feel that "Season Passes" and pay-to-play for full-priced content is becoming increasingly annoying.

Mobile phone gaming has sort of hurt traditional handheld gaming as well--although I don't really know that can be helped.  However, I sort of wonder if in the future we'll cease to see fully-developed games on the go.

So, what do you think? Has mobile gaming hurt video games in general or is it a byproduct of something that was already being corrupted?

.....or do you believe that DLC is actually being handled well for the most part and improving the industry?

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I would have loved to disagree with you here but I, unfortunately, think you're entirely correct. DLC should never have turned into what it is today. Back in the older Halo days, it worked well and should have stayed like that. You paid for and received a full game, the developers continued to support the game for a while after release, and DLC was entirely new additional content, not bits of the game that were locked away behind a paywall. People are in it for a quick buck now though and micro-transactions and frivolous DLC seem to be the norm instead of the exception. The fact that this spread from mobile to "mainstream" gaming is disappointing.

That said, I do think the freemium model can be handled well. Team Fortress 2 does a good job of it by making the items you can by have no impact on the actual gameplay. That way, you can support further development of the game without ever finding yourself in a "pay-to-win" situation.

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I find it ridiculous that a console games and computer games are requiring you to pay extra money just to finish the game. I haven't really seen this type of concept in games since MMORPGS. The game models that MMORPGS follow makes sense. Final Fantasy 7, not really. (read it would be jn parts of DLC) I feel like mobile gaming may of wrecked a little only because the quantity over quality seems to matter more. The PSP died out I think but the 3DS seems to make a comeback. I'm just noticing over all that games are becoming more of a social aspect now. Maybe that's what mobile gaming has done to influence games these days too.

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It depends on your definition of what's good/great in gaming.  And, really, the only way gaming companies know what's good is by what people buy.

I dunno who all remembers the early 90s, but when I was growing up we were just starting to come out of the Arcade era.  Back then, all the popular games were sort of like the mobile-based games now: simple, straightforward, coins for continues (unless you were on the Atari home console).  Nothing was super complex or pretty or involved, but they were still popular, and people would still spend entire rolls of quarters just to get a high score on a machine.  So companies made arcade games because the consumer spent their money there.

And then came the console surge, and alongside it the handheld surge, and that was dominant for a while, although companies still supported some arcade style things for the holdovers.  And then even later, when it became possible to use the internet for online play, MMOs surged, and then the online gaming community surged, and each different surge gave us its own specific brand of generic game: the 4-player vs game; the handheld platformer/movie adaptation game; Halo and the Call of Duty clones; the open-world sandbox goonery.

So now we have something fairly similar, but which, when I think about it, goes straight back to the arcade-style.  It started on Facebook (not mobile, actually) as little dinky time-waster games that didn't really have anything in the way of content, but provided a continual variation-on-a-theme and the option to spend money to get more of the same.  Candy Crush Saga springs to mind.  And this type of game attracted the Bored Office Worker crowd because it was something they could do to burn away the monotony during the day.  Along with that kind of game came the microtransactions (for more levels or more play time or more little fripperies to get more points), and then the evolution of the paywall.

And we bought into it.  And because we bought into it, game companies thought to themselves, "Man, this is a really killer way to make money."  So it spread to the console game, and the MMO.  And we kept buying those games, and kept spending our money on microtransactions and paywalls and "premium content".  And now here we are.

 

Personally, I don't mind all the aspects of microtransactions.  For instance, if all I'm paying for extra is cosmetic differences, that's totally fine, to me.  It's a nonessential aspect of the game.  Just a personal perk.  Or, you know, take Borderlands as an example.  "Hey, we found out that everyone really loved this game, so we made some new stuff for you, hope you enjoy!"  That's totally cool with me.  But when I'm straight up told that I have to keep buying the game to keep playing it, my interest is immediately shot.

 

tl;dr — I don't think mobile gaming (or microtransactions) has ruined gaming.  I do think that having to individually pay full game price for a bunch of different pieces of an incomplete game is utterly ridiculous, and I don't think it will stop unless we stop paying for it.

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This is a really common complaint, and the fact that it's so common should bring you comfort. It means there's more people who think the same as you do, and thus there are going to be (already are, really) more games answering your complaint.

I think what's easy to lose sight of is that in the last decade or more, the games industry and audience has ballooned like crazy. There's just more games being made, and most of them just aren't going to cater to the hardcore crowd that's been into games all this time. But that doesn't mean we're seeing less games free of shitty payment models, it just seems like it because we're seeing so many more that have that.

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Right, and that's sort of the point I was trying to make.  Everything current always seems a little blown out of proportion because of market saturation.  It won't be until we look back a few decades from now that we'll see all the good stuff without the crap clogging it down.  So I'm not terribly worried.

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Some great replies in here. The point about more games being made to fit a broader audience rings true. Some developers really hit the nail on the head with DLC. 

As Allamorph thoughtfully pointed out, Borderlands 2 offers excellent add on content without making the primary offering seem incomplete. I love polished, complete experiences which developers choose to expand upon. Driveclub is another fine example; there's a perfect blend of free and paid content on offer. Storm Island in Forza Horizon 2 was also well worth the money. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros Wii U are excellent DLC models too. 

However, it seems like every game has to have a season pass-often ambiguous offerings that may or may not offer worthwhile support. 

I do worry most about the tone of mobile games though. It makes sense for phone games to be simplistic, shallow, and easy to pick up and put down. I am very concerned that such games will completely engulf smaller projects, though. For example, I loved Shadow Complex but we never got a sequel because Epic saw more profitability in Infinity Blade. 

I am particularly interested in seeing how Nintendo adapts to the mobile landscape. I don't play a lot on the go anymore, but I have fond memories of rich, portable games and I would hate to see that disappear.

Edited by Charles

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Another point that just occurred to me is that many of these tiny mobile games are simply platforms for testing out certain features of their particular medium.  Take Flappy Bird, for example.  Extraordinarily simple concept—tap the screen and make the little birdy go higher.  Tap faster for higher, tap slower and it sinks like a freaking stone.  And people would spend hours and hours trying to get high scores on this thing for the sake of ... I dunno, bragging rights, I guess, but if everybody knew how dinky it was, then what was the point?

Really it was just testing out the touch-screen software interface in a gaming capacity.  And a lot of innovation in the gaming industry comes from private-sector people just screwing around with tech.  The main difference between now and years ago is that now developers have the ability to put their projects out in the public eye very easily by sending it to some sort of app store or other, and either market it as Free and just get exposure and feedback, or put a small price tag on it and channel the revenue off of that into whatever else they want.

And in that context, it's not just that more games are being made, but the degree to which the internet has become a part of our daily lives has made these tiny games so much more visible than they used to be.

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Another point that just occurred to me is that many of these tiny mobile games are simply platforms for testing out certain features of their particular medium.  Take Flappy Bird, for example.  Extraordinarily simple concept—tap the screen and make the little birdy go higher.  Tap faster for higher, tap slower and it sinks like a freaking stone.  And people would spend hours and hours trying to get high scores on this thing for the sake of ... I dunno, bragging rights, I guess, but if everybody knew how dinky it was, then what was the point?

I think by the time Flappy Bird was released, the basic concept of touchscreen games was solidly established. Hell, even the gameplay mechanic wasn't new; there have been games like that around forever, usually helicopter-themed. There was even one such game on Orange Lazarus back in the day, and I vied fiercely (and in vain, iirc) for the top score on it.

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