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Why is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery doing so well on the App Store when it got such a critical mauling?

Posted by Harry Slater on May 9th, 2018

It's fair to say that Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery took something of a panning when it was released. We took a look at it, complaining about the pacing, monetization systems, and general blandness of the experience. You can read our thoughts on it by clicking here.

But the critical reception is only one part of the story here. Currently the game is in the top 5 top grossing games on the App Store. And a quick glance at the ratings on the game's listing on iTunes will tell you that it's getting an average of 4.1 stars with every vote. And that's made me wonder about the divide between the people playing these games, and the people writing about them.

Loot boxes, free to play, and wait timers: Do mobile gamers have it worse than console gamers?

Posted by Harry Slater on April 30th, 2018

There's been a lot of buzz about loot boxes in console games over the past few months. Apparently they're bad, and they're killing creativity. Which sort of leads to the following question - have mobile gamers got it worse than traditional gamers?

After all, loot boxes, gacha mechanics, and wait timers have been prevalent in mobile gaming for years now. They're the rule, rather than the exception, but they're also one of the main sticks that critics of mobile gaming use to beat us with. But are mobile games really the worst of the worst, and are their players really getting the raw end of the deal?


Free to play?

Free to play games have been ubiquitous on the App Store for a good long while now. If you’re looking to make it to the pinnacle of the top grossing charts, and you’re not Minecraft, then you’re going to need to make your game free to play. And you’re going to have to spend exorbitant amounts on advertising to get people playing.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is garbage, and here's why

But unlike console games, there’s no initial outlay here. Sure you’re spending some time and bandwidth getting the game, but it’s not like you’re throwing down $60 to get something, only to find that some of the content is behind a paywall. In that way, you can sort of justify the anger console gamers have been dealing with recently.

On the flip side of that though, the free to play games on the App Store are, in a way, not really for gamers. Sure there are a few exceptions, but for the most part they’re casual or midcore experiences. They might woo you for a while with bright colors and ever-increasing numbers, but you’re unlikely to buy into them if you’re not of a certain persuasion.

Instead, some of the very best experiences on mobile are premium. Games like The Room series, Monument Valley, and Framed. Some of them might have paid-for DLC, but they’re not guarding the finest cuts for those who are willing to reach into their pockets. The breadth of styles and genres on mobile means that there is, quite literally, something for everyone, even if it’s sometimes hard to find.


The big releases

While the majority of console games come out towards the end of the year, in order to capitalize on the holiday rush, there’s a steady stream of amazing experiences coming to mobile - often on a weekly basis.

But there’s a flip side to that too. Any of the really big games that come to console either come to mobile in a massively altered form, or just don’t make it onto the App Store at all. That said, mainstream gaming has become something of a wasteland in terms of innovation in recent years, beset by sequels, remakes, and games that if they came out on mobile would get slated as clones.


The verdict

There’s pros and cons to both mobile and non-mobile gaming, but it’s fair to say that while mobile has dealt with a lot of the problems that are besetting AAA games, it’s also managed to circumnavigate them pretty well. Discovery is still an issue for a lot of premium titles, but they’re there, and sites like 148Apps are going to point you in the right direction.

At the same time, there are definitely a lot more games on the App Store that you could point to as being, not evil, but certainly designed to get the most money out of players. But then, these are products, created so the people behind them can earn cash, so that’s hardly a surprise.

In the end, the variety that mobile gaming offers means there’s always going to be more space for innovation than there is in the console sphere. You’re not going to see Clash of Clans on Xbox anytime soon, but the AAA manufacturers are looking at the massive amounts of money a handful of mobile developers are making and trying to move into a similar space.

Do mobile gamers have it worse? No, not at all. But if the history of mobile gaming is anything to go by, there’s a very good chance that console players are going to be hit by ideas much worse than loot boxes in the not-too-distant future.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below

The best first and third person shooters for mobile

Posted by Harry Slater on April 25th, 2018

There are lots of arguments that iOS gamers like to have, but one of them involves which is the best shooter on the App Store. We're not talking about arcade shooters or bullet hell games here, we're talking about first and third person shooters. So we figured it was time to talk about the games that really are the cream of the crop.

And because we're a friendly lot here, we've included download links so you can grab them from the App Store as quickly as possible. And links to our reviews so you can check out exactly what we think about each of the games on the list.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a brilliant representation of everything that's wrong with mobile gaming

Posted by Harry Slater on April 25th, 2018

There's something rotten at Hogwarts. Something maleficent and unstoppable. It's worked its way into every classroom, weaving its evil spells and attempting to ruin the lives of everyone who tries to get in its way.

No, that's not the plot of Harry Potter: Hogwart's Mystery. I'm talking about something much more invasive than the influence of He Who Must Not Be Named. I'm talking about monetization, wait-timers, and one of the blandest mobile games I've seen in a good long while.

This is an experience that seems almost designed to sully any good feeling you might have ever had about Harry Potter games. It feels cynical, cold, and overtly calculating. So I thought we should have a good look at everything that's wrong with it.

Will we ever see something like the Nintendo Labo for mobile?

Posted by Harry Slater on April 18th, 2018

You've probably read a lot over the past few days, or at least you probably have if you've got any interest in video games outside of the mobile sphere, about Nintendo Labo. People have been getting their hands on the new tech, and the general consensus is that it's looking like it might be pretty special.

Which got me thinking - is this the sort of thing we're likely to see coming to mobile any time soon? And if we are, what form is it likely to take? These questions and more are all going to get answered in the next few paragraphs, so let's put on our thinking caps and see where they take us.

Bottled - How sending a digital message into the waves might change the way we interact

Posted by Daniel Lipscombe on April 12th, 2018
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

I stumbled across Bottled by accident, and at its core, it's a communication app - though it could be used for dating, too. The adverts might be a little sleazy here and there, but that's down to a slight identity crisis. While the app could be used for nefarious purposes, in my time with it I've found that the userbase is made up of people who wouldn't dream of spreading negativity or trolling. But what is the app? And what does it actually do?

A guide for the Final Fantasy games you'll find on mobile

Posted by Aaron Potter on April 11th, 2018

The tentpole JRPG franchise for well over 30 years now, Final Fantasy has been capturing the hearts of both western and eastern audiences for almost as long as it's been available to them. Each new entry brings with it an entirely new cast of heroes, game mechanics, and story, with maybe the odd spin-off or fighting game variant sprinkled in for good measure. Because, why not?

It's a series that's become known for regularly regenerating itself. And while it's fairly easy to keep up with the mainline numbered entries on consoles, Final Fantasy on mobile proves to be a different beast. To help separate the rough from the smooth and your turn-based battlers from your straight action epics, here's our comprehensive breakdown of the Final Fantasy titles on IOS worth looking into.

Where next for PUBG, Fortnite, and the battle royale genre on mobile?

Posted by Harry Slater on April 11th, 2018

Battle royale games are all the rage on the App Store at the moment. A couple of weeks ago we looked at the origins of the genre, but now it's time to get the crystal balls out and think about what might be the future for the giant deathmatches we all know and love. With PUBG and Fortnite both available for iOS now, and a good handful of clones out there as well, what can the genre do to stay relevant in a world as changeable as our own? Or is this going to be another flash in the pan genre that falls by the wayside before it's really had the chance to grow? Read on to find out what we think.

How PUBG, Fortnite, and the battle royale genre took over the world

Posted by Harry Slater on March 19th, 2018

Fortnite screenshot - How the battle royale genre took over the world

The history of the battle royale genre isn't a long one. While the nascent parts of the experience have existed ever since players first started killing one another online, it's really only in the past six years that the genre has coalesced into something specific, with distinct parts that define whether a game does or doesn't fit into the specific pigeonhole.

Fortnite and PUBG might be the names connected to the massive online shooters now, but it wasn't always that way. In fact, the genre started out thanks to a number of strange confluences in the pop-culture zeitgeist. And the coming together of those ideas wasn't the preserve of companies and focus groups - a good deal of the battle royale genre stems from its players. It's those ideas, and those players, we need to trace to understand the behemoth that's barreling through the App Store at the moment.

Fortnite Will Be Better Than PUBG on Mobile

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 12th, 2018

Before last week, if you asked me which game I prefer between Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), I’d choose the latter just about 100% of the time. Now that we know that both games are primed to hit our mobile screens soon (you can even sign up for Fortnite here), I’m not so sure I’d have the same response. Between both of these games, Fortnite seems primed to be a much better mobile experience than PUBG, and here’s why:

148 in-depth: Where did it all go wrong for mobile gaming's first family, the Angry Birds?

Posted by Harry Slater on March 7th, 2018

Angry Birds where did it all go wrong?

There was a time when the Angry Birds were the face of mobile gaming. Nowadays though, that just isn't the case. You need to scroll a decent way down the top grossing charts to spot an AB title. It's Angry Birds 2. It's in 39th, just underneath Cashman Casino Vegas Slots.

Since the first Angry Birds game came out at the end of 2009, we've seen 19 other titles released either bearing the Angry Birds name or set in the Angry Birds universe. Angry Birds 2 itself is already a couple of years old.

There have been cartoons, there have been crossovers, there was even a Hollywood movie. But now the likes of Candy Crush and Clash of Clans are far more likely to be mentioned in the same breath as the App Store than Rovio's creation. Which begs the question - where did it go wrong?

Into The Breach Would Be Perfect For Mobile

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 1st, 2018

If you ask just about anyone to name their absolute “must-buy” mobile games, FTL is bound to be on that list. With an awesome premise, tons of replayability, and a tough-as-nails roguelike sensibility, it’s a game you can fire up at any time just about anywhere and have a good time. With the release of Subset Games’s follow up title, Into The Breach, this week, a lot of people have been wondering if this game has the same potential to be a smash hit on mobile, and the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:

It’s great

The first thing you might want to know about Into The Breach is that—as a follow up to FTL—it pretty much completely lives up to the hype. It’s a tightly designed roguelike where you control a team of mecha as they try to defend humanity. For a quick comparison, it feels like someone took Pacific Rim and jammed it into a tiny tactical map that looks like Advance Wars but plays a bit more like Invisible Inc., where all of your hits will land, but you have to plan them out carefully to make sure you don’t die or inflict too many human casualties in the process.

On top of that, it has a ton of unlockables, bonus missions, upgrades, and the same great difficulty curve that keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly while playing. As long as a port job of Into The Breach brings the game to mobile more-or-less intact, there’s no need to worry about whether it’s worth a purchase.

It fits

As an experiment, I went ahead and tried a couple ways to shoehorn Into The Breach onto my iPad just to see what it would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed. Even without any port work to make Into The Breach’s controls work for touch, the game works surprisingly well. It's also a game that constantly saves your progress, which makes it easy to pick up and put down on a whim. Finally—and perhaps most importantly—Into The Breach’s bite-sized tactics maps fit amazingly well on a mobile screen. Don’t believe me? Check out the screenshot below of the game running on an iPad display. Even in this compromised, windowed mode, everything about the game's UI is clean and easy to read.

The App Store could use another essential release right about now

FTL came out on mobile about four years ago, and since then there have been a few games here and there that seem like they should stay permanently installed on your home screen, but not many, especially recently. Although there are no current plans for Into The Breach to come to mobile, it would be a huge hit, particularly if it struck during an App Store lull like the one we’re currently in.

You don’t need to be playing Asphalt 9: Legends, and here’s why

Posted by Campbell Bird on February 27th, 2018

Big news dropped this week as Gameloft announced they’ve soft launched Asphalt 9: Legends in the Philippines. This has caused quite a stir primarily because the Asphalt games are among some of the best-looking racing games on the App Store. Heck, you might have already started looking at screenshots and are wondering if you should make a Philippines App Store account just to check it out for yourself. Well, if you are, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t, and here’s why:

Why the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia XZ2 are not as good as the iPhone

Posted by Harry Slater on February 26th, 2018

Samsung Galaxy S9 product shot

Over the past couple of days we've seen two massive Android phones announced over at MWC. There's Samsung's Galaxy S9, and Sony's Xperia XZ2. Both of them are pretty impressive in terms of stats, and both companies seem to be focusing (if you'll excuse the pun) on releasing phones with impressive cameras.

But if you ask me, neither of the devices has the chops to knock the iPhone off the top spot, especially when it comes to gaming. Why's that you ask? Well give me a moment and I'll explain exactly what I mean.

What mobile gaming can learn from the Nintendo Switch

Posted by Harry Slater on January 16th, 2018

While Nintendo might not have had things all its own way since it began developing for mobile, one thing it has got right is the release of the Switch. After the disappointment of the WiiU, which I still can't really explain, the Switch felt a little make or break for the big N. And it's fair to say it fits squarely in the make category.

The things that the Switch does so successfully are things that I've been saying mobile gaming has needed to do for a while now. It just so happens that Nintendo has got there first. But that doesn't mean that the mobile gaming world doesn't have things it can learn from the Switch. Things like these.