Published on July 20th, 2013 | by Joshua Poole6
In Defense of: Mobile Platforms
Recently, at San Diego Comic-Con, an announcement was made that excited and delighted a particular group of fans. Many games are announced or otherwise shown off at SDCC every year. Many exciting announcements are made. But to this particular group of fans, people who are fiercely loyal to a television show that barely lasted a single season, nothing could be more exciting.
Yes, they’re making a Firefly game.
This is big news to the show’s fans. Firefly premiered on Fox September 20th, 2002, described as a “space western drama.” The show lasted thirteen episodes before it was cancelled. Firefly has received a major cult following that’s been kept alive via comics, a table top RPG book, and a full length film in 2005, Serenity. It helped expand the following, and in some cases created the followings, of its director and creator Joss Whedon and show runners Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, and Summer Glau.
Now, after years of waiting, Firefly is getting a video game. However, the comments left by viewers of the teaser trailer on Youtube show that what was initially an exciting announcement quickly turned sour. You see, the game is called Firefly Online, and it’s going to be released exclusively on tablets and smartphones. Cue the nerdrage outcries.
Comments ranging from the logical and thought out – “The reason fans love the show is because of the characters, the writing, the humor.” – to the standard fare of Youtube comments – “Epic fail.” – based on the fact that the game is both online, and only on mobile platforms. Various commenters spoke about the supposed inherent weakness of tablets and smartphones, about the cheaply made casual games that are constantly produced that all use the same formula to make money.
That last point made me laugh, as I immediately thought of the popular “Call of Duty” franchise. Today’s average gamer has become like any other entertainment consumer, in that they don’t so much care about the similarities between projects and releases, they just want the most recent title regardless of if it’s just new skins on old content. However, I did have to stop and consider mobile devices as viable gaming platforms.
Mobile gaming is nothing new. Everyone owned a Gameboy, or at least a Tamagotchi pet, at some point. New handheld platforms are being released all the time. But often, those are stand alone platforms. Mobile devices like tablets and smartphones aren’t made exclusively for gaming. But does that mean they aren’t viable options for producing new games, good games that a self-identified “real” gamer can care about and enjoy?
It’s an easy yes. consider some of the most loved games from ten years ago. The Sims (2000), Psychonauts (2005), Grand Theft Auto III (2001), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) just to name a few. These games are beloved by many to this day. An interesting fact about them? Your phone or tablet could probably run them. In fact, several of these games, and others released in the last decade or so, have been successfully ported to Android and Apple mobile devices. How is this possible?
Consider that a passable gaming desktop today, at minimum, is going to have a multi-core processor with a minimum speed around 2 GHz, at the very least it will need 2 GB of RAM, and a video card around the 1 GB mark will do for most things.
My Google Nexus 7 has 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of Ram, and a twelve-core Nvidia GeForce video card. It couldn’t run Skyrim by any means. But it could handle all four of the games listed above (though for full disclosure, some would be on minimum settings).
The Google Play store, and Apple’s app store, are full of cheaply made, cookie-cutter, casual games. But more and more often, games with excellent writing, gameplay, and visuals are being released. With games like Knights of the Old Republic, a classic to many, being made available on iPad, and various Grand Theft Auto games available on Android devices, this is a trend that’s likely to continue. Classic games, beloved games, being made available on mobile platforms presents endless possibilities for even the most hard-core of gamers.
Quickly disappearing are the days when a game can be scoffed at simply because you can download them on your phone and play them on the toilet. The increase in technical capabilities on mobile devices means that for the first time in many years, gaming has a new frontier to conquer.
(For my fellow Browncoats, the trailer can be found here.)