As for the future of mobile gaming, the EA VP also notes how: "The ability to connect to a TV via HDMI is yet another opportunity for us to enhance the entertainment value of our games. We're always looking for new ways to create new and exciting experiences for our fans, and this will be something that we continue to monitor as the technology evolves. However, the key focus for us right now is developing exciting experiences on mobile devices where our fans play games."
Networking and fast, fluid multiplayer action
Fast and reliable networking speeds are a key issue for mobile gaming and one that the S4 has clearly been designed to address, with Samsung's smartphone one of the first to market with built-in support for 4G/LTE networking. This technology is designed to eventually replace 3G as the standard for mobile data and offers significant advantages.
3G is capable of shifting up to 3 megabits of data per second (mbps) – which is generally fine for simple web browsing and even streaming video (if you are prepared to put up with low-quality images and some stuttering and buffering). What it can't do well is provide a reliable link for multiplayer gaming. Plus, big downloads can take a long time and a 3G device really needs to have the option of finding a Wi-Fi hotspot if you need to grab anything bigger than a few megabytes.
In comparison, 4G is capable of up to 100 mbps – comparable with the kind of speeds you get on your home or office broadband. 4G also has remarkably low latency compared to 3G – which means that the response time for a 4G data 'request' is very short (around 10ms).
Latency is a crucial factor for multiplayer gaming as the longer it takes for a server to get your data, the more likely it is your avatar will be on the receiving end of your opponent's hail of bullets or that you will smash a virtual car into a wall that your reflexes saw coming but couldn't make your phone tell the game about in time.
4G provision is still in its infancy in the UK with only major metropolitan areas currently receiving adequate coverage. Yet as more networks roll out transmitters and offer 4G packages to their customers, high-speed mobile networking will become the norm and smartphones such as the GALAXY S4 are right there, ready to play.
Next gen mobile gaming talent
Simply having a fast phone with an expansive high def screen does not a successful gaming platform make. Samsung may have created a solid, high-performance device but without regular releases of great games to play it still wouldn't necessarily appeal to gamers.
This is why Samsung is actively courting games developers and publishers, with EA's Glenn Roland explaining that: "Samsung is a key partner for EA and we continue to work together to create exciting experiences for our fans. To point to a couple of recent examples, we showcased Need for Speed: Most Wanted on the S4 at our European launch event. In addition, we partnered with Samsung through our 100% Indie program, helping bring consumers even more new digital gaming experiences."
Many of the bigger developers creating games for Android are looking to the GALAXY S4 to try and exploit its capabilities, though it should also be stressed that Samsung is keen to nurture new ideas and establish a community of developers that share its ideas about the future of mobile gaming.
This is exactly why Samsung has lent its support to the aforementioned 100% Indie program – a self-publishing initiative put together by the founders of leading games publisher Chillingo. As well as developer tools and information packs, www.100percentindie.com provides both useful resources and an encouraging community to help promote the creation of S4-compatible games.
Developers can submit their games to 100% Indie via its portal where they will be checked and assessed by a team of testers to ensure they meet Samsung's app guidelines and standards.
Once a game is given the green light, Samsung has agreed to publish it through its mobile marketplace, Samsung Apps, which is available to users of the GALAXY S4 and other Samsung GALAXY devices via the built-in Samsung Apps icon. Samsung will pass on 100% of all revenues from games published in this way, until September 2013, giving new developers both a fresh market and a welcome cash injection to fund further creations.
The GALAXY S4 already looks set to be one of Samsung's fastest selling smartphones and is likely to be the major Android mobile of this generation – putting cutting-edge gaming power in the palms of hundreds of thousands of gamers and helping to encourage innovation in mobile gaming.
Which is why the question on the lips of the most clued-up developers at this year's E3 expo is not "can mobile games match console games?" but "can consoles ever catch up?"
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