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Why more PC games should make the mobile transition

by Phil Owen

Those of us who game on Android devices often get the short end of the stick, as so often games are released on iOS devices but not on Google Play. This is sad, considering so many of us have devices more powerful than any iPhone, but it is simply the way of the world right now.

That lack isn't felt with just mobile-exclusive games, though. We're also missing out on some great PC ports. Yes, we have Cthuhlu Saves the World, Minecraft and Machinarium, but we're missing out on great titles such as Yesterday, Astro Tripper, Dynamite Jack and Walking Dead.

The bigger problem as I see it is that there are a lot of PC games that would be suitable for a mobile adaptation that simply don't go that route. Far more often than not, PC game developers leave that option untouched.

Sure, part of the problem may be that they want to charge more than $7 for their games, and that's fair. But there are tons of new PC games released every week for $15 or less, and it just seems strange that so few of them ever see life on a mobile device.

As I've mentioned before, we have reached the point where more people game on mobile than on all other platforms combined. This is a market that should not be ignored, even if the profitability per copy might be low compared to the PC.

Freedom from gaming in isolation

DeponiaI look at games like Deponia and a new Edna & Harvey episode, point-and-click adventure games built like the old LucasArts SCUMM games from the '90s, and wonder how it's possible they aren't available on my tablet. Sure, Edna & Harvery: The Breakout, which is a couple years old, can be found in the iOS App Store, but what about the new ones? I would love to experience Harvey's New Eyes while lounging on my back porch, but instead I'm stuck in front of the computer.

There are other factors that must be considered here, of course, such as the cost and difficulty of porting such games to mobile devices. Such an undertaking can probably not be done super quickly, even with the help of Unity. I think by skipping that mobile audience, they are losing out on cold, hard cash.

On the other hand, it's possible that mobile gamers aren't so intent with playing new games as soon as they are released, and that is mostly the case with independent PC gaming as well. Folks don't prioritize them the way they do AAA event titles.

But I think a key point here is that PC gaming is an isolated experience if you're playing on a desktop, and, believe me, a lot of people still use desktops for gaming, as it is much cheaper to procure or build a gaming desktop than it is to buy a gaming laptop. A tablet option on new games would let folks move out of the office and into the living room, helping folks feel less alone in the world.

More potential PC ports

It should be noted, though, that even a guy as talented as Terry Cavanagh hasn't yet managed to create a mobile port of his PC hit VVVVVV, which I know would be an absolute smash on mobile. You can't argue that mobile isn't a priority to Cavanagh (see: Super Hexagon), and so the issue here is probably pretty complex.

Still, I want what I want, and I want the ability to play more of these smaller PC games I enjoy so much on my tablet and phone, and I can't be alone in that. There has to be great demand for this. I just hope these developers can see that. There are so many that would be ripe for conversion, such as: Frozen Synapse, Analogue: A Hate Story, Limbo, Lone Survivor and Vessel. And those are just games I own! There are many more games that I don't own that would be good, too.

And then there are the archives. GOG.com is a great place to find old games, but can you imagine them having a mobile marketplace? Older titles like Fallout, Syberia and Syndicate would probably kill on mobile.

Yes, there are already more than enough games on mobile platforms, but the vast majority of these titles are of the type that you pick up and play for a few minutes and then do something else. When you examine the full scope of the mobile gaming landscape, it becomes clear that only a small percentage of mobile games are highly engaging experiences. Games like the ones I've mentioned above would provide an influx of more in-depth and engaging experiences than we are accustomed to on mobile. Then, we would all be winners.

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