I’ve owned four cell phones in my life, and one iPod. 3 of the phones had games on them when they came into my possession, and I bought one game for my iPod. None of these games were fun. Let’s face it: games on mobile devices are, by and large, pretty stanky. And despite large companies throwing larger amounts of money into the production of mobile games, I don’t see the situation getting any better. Here’s why!
The Price is Wrong
When I picked up my latest phone (an LG Chocolate 2), I was sad to find that it came with absolutely no games installed. The most entertaining thing you can do with it directly out of the box is listen to the pre-loaded ring tones or play with the animated dining tip calculator… in other words, there’s a void of entertainment that needs filling. So I get on Verizon’s website to see what kind of games they offer for download, and what do I find? A bunch of crappy games that I play for free on my PC, but which cost between $6 to $10 on my phone – and that’s ignoring the fact that many of these games will not work unless your service is active, and (as I understand it) then they go ahead and use air time (minutes on your plan) while you play. Um… what? I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay $10 to play yet another version of Tetris, all while using up my precious minutes.
I’ve Lost Control
Another problem I have with mobile games is that almost across the board, the controls for these games suck. From simple platform games like “Gem Collector” to that crappy version of Tetris I have on my iPod, poor controls seems to be a common thread. I can’t place all the blame on the people who worked to make these games however – most of them have come up with very creative solutions to deal with the lack of practical game controls on mobile devices, and the range of devices their games can run on.
The issue here is that even though we demand a lot from our mobile devices, there is an effort to keep the physical user interface as simple as possible. The easier my gadgets are to control, the better. The part I hate is that, despite the fact that most of the developers behind this hardware know that games will be played on their devices, they seemingly don’t take this into consideration during product design. Sure, my cell phone’s got a pretty nice little processor inside, but if all the buttons on the phone are too small for my fingers, or require too much force to press, how am I supposed to enjoy any kind of gaming with it?
Now here’s the real deal-breaker for me: Let’s say you’ve found a game you simply love to play, you’ve bought it, and you’ve mastered the controls. Now you’re just settling down to get in some quality game time, and your phone / iPod just shuts down right in the middle of everything. “WTF!” you think to yourself. “I’ve only been playing for a few minutes!”
Thus is the way of the mobile game – you’re now stuck at the airport, outside the dressing room, or maybe just in the bathroom, with nary a speck of entertainment to be found. You can’t call anyone. You can’t listen to any music. And you could’ve sworn that the little worthless piece of junk you’re holding in your hands was fully charged just 15 minutes ago. Yes folks, if it’s not price or control issues that get you, the lack of sufficient battery hunger will. And while this certainly isn’t the case with all mobile devices, as we ask more and more of our gadgets, it will continue to be a growing problem. Battery life is the bane of all things wireless, and she is a harsh mistress indeed.
There are more reasons why I hate mobile games… lack of quality, lack of depth – I could go on. But for now, I think this should suffice. If you really want games on the road, I suggest picking up a Nintendo DS.