Nobody will mistake me for a fan of Nexon, their games, or their business model. Atlantica Online is the only game they host that I might consider playing, and Dragon Nest was so off-puting that it earned a spot on our Zeroes list. In spite of their gaming line-up souring my appetite, however, I can still maintain some semblance of objectivity when it comes to the message their CEO-elect, Owen Mahoney, delivered to mobile game developers via interview with Venture Beat last week at GDC 2014.
In a conversation with Dean Takahashi, Mahoney begins by noting the lack of meaningful differences between PC’s and mobile devices – they can do the same things, and clients can be developed on each to access the same applications and data sets. He then put mobile developers – and, in a sense, all digital game developers – on blast when he said, “A third of what we’ve [game develoeprs] done in the last few months is Flappy Bird clones. We’re letting consumers down. I know that, because as a consumer, I really want to play a different kind of game than just a casual, short-format game. I want to play a more immersive experience.”
Sony was on to something when they allowed developers to make games that could be played at home on the PS3, paused, and resumed on the Vita while traveling. Sure, it’s all proprietary vs. cross-platform and may not have been executed spectacularly, but the underlying idea of having a similar gaming experience available at home or on the go was there. Mahoney’s point is that, particularly as technology has continued to evolve and the capabilities of a mobile device are climbing through the stratosphere, there’s no reason why developers shouldn’t be creating deep, immersive games that provide seamless experiences and capabilities regardless of cords or screen sizes.
I’m no fan of mobile gaming, but as much as I hate the messenger, I love and completely agree with the message. In fact, part of the reason I’m not a fan of mobile gaming is because of the subject at hand – if I’m going to spend any time gaming on a mobile device, it won’t be on some 16-bit crappy bird game. That’s not a knock on 16-bit games (Don’t cry…I still heart you, SNES!), the Flappy Bird game, nor the developer – if you make a winning product, good on you, mate! Instead, it’s an assault on the general state of available products. There’s a dearth of quality, “long form” games playable on mobile platforms that don’t simply want to turn me into their ATM.
This is why I’m interested to see how Albion Online goes – It’s the only game I’m aware of that is being developed as a AAA MMO product with cross-platform capability in mind from the start. I’m not in the alpha and I highly doubt I’ll even apply for any closed beta access, but I will absolutely be downloading and trying all five versions of the client as soon as they’re available publicly. Hopefully I’ll still have a wife after that, and hopefully both the game and the clients perform well. If Albion is a success, I suspect a number of other developers will quickly jump on the cross-platform bandwagon, resources be damned.
I better cut it off here. I find myself more and more tempted to let this devolve into a a hatefest on Nexon and their version of the free-to-play model, but if I do then there’s a real risk this post will become nothing more than flappy crap.