My last post should have made clear that I’m pretty optimistic about the iPhone’s future. As mentioned in that post, the number of good games coming out outweigh the number of issues that the iPhone suffers from. But issues there are, and they’ll have to be addressed if Apple wants to make waves the mobile gaming market.
The most undeniable issues with the iPhone are the amount of garbage on the App Store and the number of games with poor controls.
The garbage is the lesser of the two problems because trash is naturally filtered out as the best products rise to the top. A certain amount of trash should be expected with any store composed mostly of games ‘made by some dude in his basement’. This is not to say that games made by some dude in his basement are bad, just that for every gem there are ten piles of shit.
But low-budget games are only part of the problem; uninspired clones made by larger development studios clog the App Store just as much. Developer Gameloft is notorious for cloning successful franchises mercilessly, from Diablo (Dungeon Hunter) to God of War (Hero of Sparta) to, perhaps the most brazen steal, Modern Warfare (Modern Combat).
While some of these titles make me want to say “Really Gameloft? Really?”, this is not a particularly major problem. In fact, despite the cringe-worthy names, some of these clones are good, even great.
The real threat to the future of iPhone gaming is poor controls. Perhaps the most common failure in developer logic is not realising that my thumbs take up space on the screen, block the action and generally fuck up the experience. There are way too many times when I’m playing an iPhone shooter, I move my thumb up and tap the screen to throw a grenade, and I’m already staring at the ‘Retry Mission’ screen. It’s way too common for enemy A.I. to snap out from behind cover and kill me while my thumb obstructs the screen. It’s just not fun.
And it doesn’t just apply to shooters. RTS games and high score games (in the vein of Doodle Jump) can fall victim to this gameplay frustration equally easily. Building control schemes specifically for the iPhone and not trying to replicate PC and console control setups is the only way around this. It’s disappointing to see something as fixable as a bad control scheme ruin an otherwise great game.
So those are the biggest issues with iPhone gaming. But, as stated in my last post, I believe that they can all be fixed. Large numbers of bad games are only a minor annoyance and bad control schemes stem from trying to emulate console controls and lazy design. All will be dealt with in time.
‘Till next time,
Read my blog at IGN here.