Still Waiting: Console And PC Developers That Need To Do More With Mobile
What could the future hold for mobile gaming?
As the current generation of consoles wheeze into old age, the more open-platform devices have continued to evolve at a steady pace, making the technology far more appealing to developers. The way we engage with our games is changing too, something recognized by the major publishers as they attempt to converge our experiences on the move, with our adventures in the living room. In this feature, we take a look at those companies who have dabbled in the darker arts of mobile gaming, and what we'd like to see more of from them.
Blizzard's never been shy about its aspirations to bring MMO behemoth World of Warcraft to mobile devices, but the developer has long cited the difficulties of transferring a game so suited to keyboard-and-mouse to the trickier touchscreen as the stumbling block to progress.
That said, they remain the most likely to solve the problem first. In 2009 Blizzard released the WOW Mobile Armory app, allowing players to view character information, as well as take part in limited auction-house gameplay. Not only that, the company hinted recently that we may well see "mini-games" from World of Warcraft such as the fishing profession make their way to mobiles. Could we also see the pet battle system from the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion releaseed for non-PC platforms? Time will tell.
We're in the dark about details of their next MMO in development (the cryptically-titled Titan), but we'd be surprised if at least some convergence wasn't provided between mobile and housebound gaming when the intriguing title is eventually released.
The recently-released Steam app is the first sign from Valve that it sees the mobile industry as a key part of its gaming future. Rumors that the development and platform maestro was working on a PC-console hybrid for under-the-television gaming proved to be unfounded, although we don't doubt the possibility remains under investigation. Could a platform for mobile gaming also be in the works?
The freedom to experiment that Valve offers its employees is legendary, and we'd be surprised if there wasn't a team somewhere at the Washington giant's headquarters investigating the potential of mobile support. Even if we never get to experience Valve's blockbuster adventures on the move, we'd definitely welcome more convergence between platforms. Map designing on the way to work? Too good to be true. Put Valve at the top of our wish-list for more mobile involvement.
We've had a Duke Nukem soundboard show up on mobiles but precious little else from the developer behind that most controversial of games, as well as the hugely popular Borderlands.
Borderlands 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines are both on the upcoming release schedule, so here's hoping we at least see a companion app for the former. We also wouldn't say no to a little Aliens action on the way to work in the morning.
Many have tried to crack the MMO mobile market with varying (and often limited) degrees of success, but we can't think of anything much more intriguing than one of NCsoft's uniquely Eastern MMOs making its way onto mobiles.
As Blizzard looks to increase its mobile presence, the hotly-anticipated Guild Wars 2 provides NCsoft with a great opportunity to beat the competition to the punch. Character outfitting, guild management and even leveling opportunities are all areas of the game we'd love for the publisher to deliver on mobiles when the game is released later on this year.
As with most of the developers on this list, Rockstar have already teased at the potential for delivering world-class AAA titles onto our phones, most notably with the release of last year's anniversary edition of Grand Theft Auto III. The transfer of such an epic game towards what had traditionally been viewed as a technically-inferior hardware paid testament to just how far mobile devices have come in the last few years.
The developer has long embraced the power of multimedia content within its epic crime series (most notably in 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV), where television stations and in-game phone communication all played a part in the story. Should the next game bring any sort of persistence to the table, we'd love nothing more than to be dragged scurrying back to our consoles via real-world phone alerts. Criminals use mobile phones too, right? There are plenty of options to bring in-game professions over to handhelds.
The masters of brutal combat have brought us the Ninja Gaiden series on consoles, as well as the delightfully daft Dead or Alive series. They've remained quiet on the mobile scene though, so what could be holding them up?
Even the most hardened mobile fun would be hard-pushed to disagree with the fact that fighting games tend to make a poor transition to touchscreens, depending as they do on precision control and fast reactions. That said, a developer of Team Ninja's caliber must surely have something they could bring to the table.
Now we're truly in the land of pipe-dreams, but Nintendo's handheld experience is legendary so let's just call it wishful-thinking. As consumers continue to weigh up the advantages of carrying two pocket-sized devices around with them, Nintendo could dominate the mobile scene with its cherished back-catalog of famous franchises.
Mr Nintendo himself, Shigeru Miyamoto has recently expressed his admiration for Angry Birds (not without strong reaction from traditional console gamers), so even if Nintendo itself doesn't formally develop for the mobile scene, we may yet see the company's immense creative talent move into the field. Like everyone else we adore Mario, Zelda and all the staples of Nintendo's catalog, but if we can't have the games themselves, we'll settle for the creative talent.