When you’re commuting to and from work or when you’re sat down at the nearest Starbucks enjoying that well-earned coffee break, take a quick look around at people who are using their smartphones. The chances are that a fair few of the people you’ll be looking at aren’t just sitting there diligently sending off work emails, or texting friends; they will, in all likelihood, be killing time by playing some kind of mobile game.
The lack of investment needed when it comes to downloading mobile apps related to gaming has caused a huge rise in the mobile gaming sector. The majority of games are now made available on the two most popular operating systems for smartphones: Android and iOS. As this industry continues to diversify and grow, the world of mobile gaming is continuing to see its revenues increase, with revenue totals hitting $40.6million in 2016. This has seen global gaming companies like EA getting involved as they bring out games that would normally release on PC or consoles on smartphones (the upcoming release of The Sims later in 2017 for mobile is a great example of this).
Range and accessibility when it comes to games is crucial, but what is it really that drives people to keep playing games on mobile? Is it the complex, multi-faceted approach that has dominated the world of strategy games like Command & Conquer and more complex role playing games like Skyrim, the most recent version of which has sold more than 20 million copies, or is it actually the appeal of pick up and play games where you can play in short sharp bursts with minimal concentration required?
Does The Football Manager Title Prove a Trend?
Perhaps our answer lies in one popular game that has already stood the test of time. Football Manager, first launched in 1992, changes in terms of the way you can play it depending upon the platform you are using. There’s a PC-based full game, a tablet game, and a mobile game.
This differentiation shows that those on a PC might well have the time and inclination to scout players and compare their stats for hours (as well as devising more complex tactics and playing strategies to make the game as realistic as possible), whereas those on both tablets and smartphones appear to be much more interested in a style that is easier to just pick up and enjoy without having to take on the time-consuming challenge of intense strategy and planning when you just want to kill a little time.
Is Simplicity Key?
It does seem, from anecdotal evidence like this, that simplicity is key. When you look at the recent releases on iPhones that have been popular from big brands like Nintendo, you can see that it isn’t games that require hours to play which prove popular, but instead games that can be played in short bursts. The only exception to this really has been Pokemon Go, which enables players to play the game for hours on end as they go about collecting Pokemon or fighting in gyms. However, even this game is available to pick up and put down at will, with this mixing and matching playing style helping to encourage 750 million downloads of the game.
Of course, being successful isn’t about simply copying a style of game but about acknowledging why something has been successful in the first place. Mobile games like EA’s The Simpsons Tapped Out avoid the more complex incarnations of games that take up time and energy, with the one-click playing style meaning that gamers don’t have to spend time fiddling with multiple buttons or actions when they are just looking to dip in and out of a game. A similar trend has taken off in the iGaming niche too; Betway Casino’s slot games can often be played in an “idle” way, with little interaction from the player. Finally, Plarium’s collaborative games work well because they meld social interaction with straightforward mechanics.
Gamers increasingly look to lightweight games, with many popular releases not requiring huge input from players to be enjoyable, and others, like Egg, Inc. (an addictive chicken farm game released in 2016) proving that despite having a ‘pointless’ factor to them, they are perfect for killing time thanks to simple rules, easy playability, and the chance to forget about them as soon as you are finished!