Mobile gaming accounts for over half of all gaming revenue, yet despite being the biggest platform by far mobile games only make-up 18 (or 8%) of the 222 titles featured on the Gamescom 2021 site. That’s compared with 133 of the games being playable on console, and 201 playable on PC.
Of the 18 mobile games that do make the list, you’re mostly looking at updates to free-to-play mobile MMOs like Genshin Impact and digital versions of board and card games (such as Monopoly and Yu-Gi-Oh!). While these titles certainly have their fans, you’d be forgiven if you’re left feeling unimpressed by what’s on show or if you’re led to believe mobile gaming has little to offer beyond gacha-style gameplay with an overreliance on in-app purchases.
Those kinds of games do populate the app stores on Android and iOS, but it’s not all that mobile gaming has to offer. Despite its massive rise in popularity, mobile games are still looked down upon by large portions of the mainstream gaming community and part of that could be down to a poor image that is perpetuated by not being featured at events like Gamescom 2021.
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Mobile offers more than gacha games and tile-matchers
If you aren’t used to playing more than the odd commute-buster on your phone or tablet you might not believe that mobile gaming has much to offer you, especially not compared to what’s on rival platforms. Sure, there’s nothing on the technical level of God of War or Halo Infinite yet (unless you count Xbox Cloud Gaming) but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to tile-matchers.
Florence is a beautiful narrative adventure about falling in and out of love. While the game is fairly short, it garnered a lot of praise in 2018 when it was released and has a 90% rating on Metacritic. While it’s now playable elsewhere, it was a mobile-exclusive until 2020 and bucked the trend of most mobile games by being a one-time purchase.
Earlier this year turn-based RPG fans went wild for Fantasian, an Apple Arcade exclusive developed by a team that includes Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of Final Fantasy). The game has a unique visual style thanks to its approach of blending real-world, hand-crafted diorama environments with virtual character models.
Services like Apple Arcade are full of splendid mobile titles in fact, all of which are free from in-app ads and purchases thanks to the monthly subscription you pay for the service. But if you are an outsider to the ecosystem, you might not know how the platform is challenging mobile gaming stereotypes.
We could carry on our list with other great options too including 80 Days, Framed (and its sequel), and The Room series. These games may have been released on mobile already (some many years ago at this point) but new titles like them are released every year. We’re sure another great mobile game is in development right now too, but most likely very few of us will know about it until it’s almost out or has even been out for several months.
If mobile gaming wants to be treated like the rest of the industry, it should stand alongside it at the biggest events of the year like Gamescom and E3. It’s not just on the events to give them space either. Now that large companies like Apple and Netflix have shown an interest in snatching up mobile gaming talent for their services, they should help promote what they’re working on by holding conferences on the same stages that are used by creators on Xbox and PlayStation.
Mobile gaming might not offer the pinnacle of the video game experience but there are still some great games out there that don’t deserve to be overlooked. If all people ever see are the same few games over and over, it can paint a very plain picture of the mobile gaming landscape, one that isn’t a fair representation of what it has to offer.
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