The annual E3 Expo in LA is the biggest games industry event in the calendar and this year was certainly no exception. As the eyes of the gaming world turned to Los Angeles to see the latest in console and PC gaming, however, a quiet revolution is brewing in the mobile world.
Mobiles and tablets have a number of clear advantages over games consoles and PCs. They are permanently networked and connected, both to each other and to the cloud. They are also very portable and, in the case of smartphones, likely to be a constant "life companion" in a way that older handheld games machines are not.
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In recent years games developers have begun to create deep, well-crafted games for mobile that are a quantum leap on from the kind of games that were popular on mobile phones even five years ago, both graphically and in terms of gameplay and replayability.
Despite this, smartphones have traditionally been viewed by some as the poor relation compared to consoles. Serious, so-called "hardcore" gamers demand serious, hardcore consoles – or so we have been led to believe by many in the industry.
Not any more. Smartphones are getting more and more powerful every year and the latest generation is a marked step up in terms of raw speed and graphical ability. Soon, the cutting edge will fit in your pocket and the Samsung GALAXY S4 is leading the way.
Faster processors and GPUs
The GALAXY S4 packs a super-speedy processor, capable of competing at a speed that leaves last year's phones behind. Which is the main reason why mobile games developers love it.
Carter Randolph is one such developer, of Chocolate Homunculus fame, the developers of one-button platform game Spunk & Moxie, who says of the S4′s processing power: "We're now more able to take all of the graphical features available on a version running on a high-end PC and have them work flawlessly on phones."
Randolph adds: "We're very glad to see Samsung really focus their attention on gaming, and it makes total sense."
Another developer who is a big fan of the S4 is Nate Boxer, a developer for Kabam – a mobile game publisher with a number of titles on Google Play, including the tie-in game for Fast & Furious 6. He describes his job as "Pushing the tech as far as it will go on Android."
"The S4 is pretty great," adds Boxer, "and will run games that phones from a year ago chug pretty badly on."
S4 powers creative game design
Uber-publisher Electronic Arts is one of the major "old-school" games companies investing heavily in mobile development, encouraging new talent and innovation on the Android platform.
Glenn Roland, EA's Vice President of New Platforms and OEM explains how Android gaming has changed thanks to better devices.
"New devices, like the Samsung GALAXY S4, coming out in the Android system are driving up the quality of titles and enable us to create a vastly improved consumer experience with improved chip sets and screens," says the EA VP.
"We've already seen this recently with our successes on the Android platform for Bejeweled Blitz and Tetris Blitz, which had huge success following its recent launch."
Speaking about the increased power of the GALAXY S4′s CPU, Roland adds: "The increase in power has allowed us to increase the visual levels across our titles, allowing us to create a richer experience for our fans. Our Real Racing franchise is a great example of the growth of these devices over the last few years.
"To develop each car, we use a computer animated design (CAD) system that produces triangular data that helps us render the cars in the game.