Ah, the Great App Store Pricing Debate. For years people have been arguing over the cost of mobile games. What constitutes “too much?” Where’s the line when it comes to free-to-play monetization techniques? Should developers have deep discounts and temporary giveaways? Should consumers simply expect everything to go on sale and wait accordingly?
The recent Dungeon Keeper debacle is a good example of this. Gamers and critics alike have railed against it for using various monetization techniques and associating itself with the classic PC strategy series, and many point to it as an unpleasant indication of where the video game industry (especially mobile) is headed. It’s an issue that’s almost as complicated as the initial Freemium vs. Premium debate; so let’s take a closer look at everything and try to make sense of it all.
As 2013 starts to wind down, people naturally begin to reflect. That and anticipate 2014, but that’s another set of words entirely. Anyway, as I began to think back on the year one major theme kept popping into my head: the increased power of mobile hardware and the way it’s been used to create some truly impressive adaptations of games from other platforms.
What’s really blown me away about all this is just how faithful these ports have been. In some cases concessions had to be made with the UI or the graphical details, but a good many of these games are nigh indistinguishable from their console/PC counterparts. Heck, some of them actually fare better than the originals!
So with this in mind, we present you with our list of notable iOS ports from 2013 (and maybe a few that came out earlier because they’re just that awesome).
It’s hard to kick-off a list like this without XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Simply hearing that one of 2012’s best strategy games was bound for iOS was exciting enough. However, this was no rush-job or some bare-bones freemium cash grab. Firaxis somehow managed to shrink the game down with only a few extremely minor changes (i.e. slightly less detailed visuals, fewer maps overall, and fewer soldier customization options). The flip-side to that is the inclusion of touch controls that were a perfect fit for the gameplay. Continue reading 148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up – High Quality iOS Ports »
Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 31st, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Deus Ex: The Fall is currently on sale for 40% off, making it available for $4.99. Still now sure if you want to spend 5 bucks on the game? Well, there is a new lite version that lets you experience the opening missions for free. The sale price is only available for a limited time, so check out the lite version and see if 5 dollars is worthy of a purchase!
Despite the apparent opulence of Deus Ex: The Fall’s world, it’s still a very dangerous place. Whether you fight back against your aggressors or sneak past them without any bloodshed is a matter of preference, but one way or another these threats will have to be dealt with. It’s the very reason we’ve put together this handy guide that includes suggestions for weapons, attachments, augmentations, and general tips that should help Ben Saxon live to get caught up in a web of corporate intrigue another day.
General Exploration and Hacking
There are lots and lots of worthwhile goodies to be found just laying around the environment, but you won’t be able to reach all of it without a little help. Oftentimes there will be a couple of different options available for getting inside of a locked room, but without the proper augmentations certain areas will be off-limits for the entire game. That’s why you may want to think about teaching Ben a few of these skills if you’re interested in scrounging every last inch of the world for gear.
Strength – Move Heavy Objects is a handy skill to have both for exploring and circumventing enemies. It boils down to shoving large boxes out of the way but it often reveals hidden access points or opens up new paths. Punch Through Walls can also be quite handy, even from a non-combat standpoint. With it Ben can essentially create his own doorways through specific points of the environment, although punching through solid concrete makes a fair bit of noise so exercise caution when using it.
Hacking – If you want to find all the hidden goodies, you’re going to need to get used to hacking. Aside from the general Capture skills that allow Ben to hack more and more advanced systems with each upgrade, he can also make use of Hacking Stealth to make him less noticeable when capturing nodes as well as Fortify to strengthen captured nodes and make a trace more difficult.
Combat Augmentation and Weapon Specializations
We can’t always avoid confrontation, and when that happens in Deus Ex: The Fall it can quickly turn into a kill or be killed situation. Thankfully Ben has more than a fair amount of combat experience, so by focusing on certain firearms and augs he’ll be more than capable of holding his own when things get dicey.
Armor – If you plan to get into a lot of firefights, you’ll definitely want to take points in armor. Not only will it increase Ben’s toughness but after a couple of upgrades he can also learn EMP Shielding, which will nullify the effects of EMP blast from grenades and mines as well as render him immune to electrified flooring.
Strength – Punch Through Walls is great for exploring, but it’s also handy for fighting. With the proper timing Ben can easily dispatch an enemy that would otherwise be difficult to sneak past simply by reaching through the wall they’re standing by. Recoil Compensation and Aim Stabilization are also important since there’s bound to be a lot of shooting (especially once he blasts a hole in a wall with his fist) and accuracy will be very important.
Weapons – With the exception of the Stun Gun, all the firearms are lethal. The Crossbow can silently take out unarmored enemies with enough damage upgrades while the 10MM Pistol and Combat Rifle can also be fitted with sound suppressors in order to take out targets from a distance without making too much noise. If subtlety isn’t an option (or desired) there’s also the Q Tap attachment for the 10MM Pistol that adds armor piercing. Then there are all the non-so-subtle weapons like the Tactical RPG, Plasma Rifle, and Shotgun. Ben also has access to Frag Grenades and mines, both of which can be devastating if used against groups of enemies. EMP Grenades and Mines are also worth considering as they’re useful when dealing with mechanical enemies as well as augmented humans.
Stealth Augmentation and Weapon Specializations
Not everyone is looking to start a fight or kill hapless guards. In fact, it’s entirely possible to complete Deus Ex: The Fall’s first episode in its entirety without killing anybody. It requires a lot of sneaking around and some very particular skill choices, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to pull off.
Cloaking System – Ben’s ability to cloak gives him a distinct advantage when it comes to sneaking past enemies. Its power usage is limited, but when used at the right moment it can make navigating a room full of guards a lot easier.
Multiple Take-Down – Since ammo is somewhat limited and the Stun Gun is for close range, you’re going to have to get really familiar with non-lethal take-downs. Each one uses up one of Ben’s energy bars, however, so being able to take out two guards in close proximity at the same time (and on a single charge) just makes good economic sense.
Radar System – Ben has access to the first stage of this aug right from the beginning, but upgrading it to improve its range will be very useful when it comes to planning a route through hostile territory. Although it can be tough to tell where each enemy is, exactly, since they’re only represented as little spots in an empty box.
Smart Vision – Smart Vision makes up for the radar’s shortcomings by showing enemy locations and orientations in real time. It can be tough to tell which direction the little green arrows are facing on the radar, especially when playing on the smaller iPhone screen, so being able to see exactly where each enemy is in relation to Ben through solid objects is a major help.
Energy Converter – Because so many of Ben’s essential stealth augs require energy to activate it’s important to sink some Praxis Points into this skill. Specifically the Energy Recharge Rates as the faster his batteries recharge the sooner he’ll be able to use more skills. Adding more bars through Energy Upgrades is handy, too, but it’s important to remember that Ben only naturally recharges a single bar by default. The rest have to be refilled using items. Of course with enough points in Energy Upgrades you can unlock a Recharge Capacity Upgrade which will allow Ben to refill two bars automatically.
Cybernetic Leg Prosthesis – Ben’s legs have a few enhancements that can make sneaking around easier. Run Silently allows him to move at top speed without making noise and drawing attention, and it works in conjunction with his Movement Speed Enhancements so he can pretty much zip around without making a sound. Stealth Dash is also useful for closing the distance between cover points in a hurry without alerting every guard in the room.
Weapons – Ben has a few less options when it comes to stealth-friendly weapons, but there are still more than enough tools to work with. The Crossbow is still a very viable option and can be fitted with tranquilizer darts for non-lethal sleep shots. The Stun Gun is also a handy option for saving on battery power but it’s close range only and doesn’t reload very fast. If you don’t have a problem with killing, both the 10MM Pistol and Combat Rifle can be fitted with a silencer for more quiet long-range options. Finally, Ben can make use of Concussion Grenades and mines to stun enemies while he makes an escape or beats them to a pulp.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Deus Ex: The Fall is set to arrive on the App Store this week, July 11th, for the price of $6.99.
Deus Ex: The Fall is the first Deus Ex title to be released on mobile, bringing a story-driven action-RPG campaign to our iPhones and iPads. It’s developed by Square Enix’s mobile division in collaboration with the team behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it looks to have many similarities. It’s a world with powerful corporations and human augmentations as you play the role of a former British SAS mercenary, Ben Saxson, who underwent augmentations himself. Ben is soon betrayed as time begins to run out on him and all humans with augmentations. Eek!
I certainly can’t wait to get my augmented hands on this title! If you haven’t already, be sure to enjoy The Fall’s E3 trailer below.
Why is there such a buzz around XCOM: Enemy Unknown arriving on iOS? Sure, It’s not just a high-quality title, but it’s also a current-generation console and PC game that is being brought to iPhones and iPads. But why does this buzz exist? Why is the mobile gaming community excited about getting to play a game that already exists on multiple other platforms?
I believe it’s because mobile gamers not only want to play core games like XCOM, but they also want them to succeed because they want more of them. The mobile market just hasn’t been the friendliest environment so far for the kinds of experiences available on consoles and PC. Developers and publishers have been scared away from making either ports or even original core games thanks to the pricing race to the bottom, despite hardware becoming more technically-capable of handling core games. $19.99 is cheap for XCOM, but not in the wider context of $0.99 and free-to-play games that are so prevalent on mobile.
It feels hopeful to see promising titles take a blowtorch to the current system. The mobile market should be able to support games worthy of higher prices as well as the lower-cost indie titles and the free-to-play games, in a similar way to what Steam has done. That service is not the most accessible for indies, and it still reinforces the archaic notion of ‘publishing’ in a digital distribution system. Despite the drawbacks, at least it’s possible for games at smaller price points to thrive along with the big-budget, big-price games. Mobile gaming is largely beholden to the free-to-play (or almost free) pricing scheme.
Providing additional hope for core games on mobile is the promise of gamepads. There are going to be some core games that just aren’t going to be great on touchscreens. Sure, it’s possible to create passable interfaces for many games, but many games are just plain better with physical controls. Hello, Grand Theft Auto 3. That Apple is making physical controls a possibility, and with the sleeping giant that is TV gaming via the Apple TV lying in wait, core gaming feels like it is nearing takeoff on ‘mobile’ platforms.
Too. Many. Virtual. Buttons.
With this movement, there is definite potential for drawing in core gamers who have rejected mobile gaming. If they see that mobile can support the kinds of games they love, then perhaps they’ll give the platform its just due. On the flipside, I think that mobile gamers want to see their platform of choice become accepted. Is it insecurity? Perhaps to a small degree, but there’s no reason for this platform to be so disrespected.
Sure, the gaming handhelds have tried to provide core gaming experiences while on the go. But there’s just so much less creativity on those platforms because they’re not completely open to all developers yet. The Vita’s getting to that point with Playstation Mobile, but its single-use focus means I don’t see a need to carry it around with me at all times when when my iPhone is just more handy. I can use that to do everything, including playing games. But what reason is there for my iPhone to not have the kinds of games that I can have on my Vita and 3DS?
Yeah, but does it have Tweetbot?
Mobile gaming is great, and it’s opened up avenues for new types of games and for new types of gamers. Yet there’s no reason the core gaming experience, and those that enjoy it, shouldn’t be welcome on mobile too. So yes, get excited about core games like XCOM coming to mobile, and support the worthy ones, because it can lead to more great games coming to mobile, and that’s a very good thing.
When Deus Ex: The Fall was announced as a mobile title, the reaction could be clearly delineated into two camps: mobile gamers intrigued by this deep franchise making its way to mobile, and by ‘core’ gamers who were outraged that a new Deus Ex game wouldn’t be coming to consoles and PC. As if it had to. As if they had a right to it. As if it was somehow a lesser product for being a mobile game.
Make no mistake, mobile gaming is still not fully accepted by gamers. It’s a big deal, and those who have had fun with the countless number of creative titles of various scales from all walks of life will know that a fun game is a fun game no matter what platform it’s on. But there’s still a mindset that mobile gaming is still a lesser form of gaming, and the reaction to Deus Ex: The Fall exposes this ugly truth.
But what is it about this game that makes people so hostile to the very idea of mobile gamers getting a console-quality title on the go? Was it a presumption that since a new Deus Ex title was announced, it had to be for consoles? Still, the disappointment seemed especially amplified in this circumstance. It wasn’t just the garden-variety internet trolls who compalin loudly, though: it was high-profile outlets like IGN and even Penny Arcade Report were disappointed. PAR strives for a higher class of gaming coverage, so this still seems uncharacteristic of them.
What IGN’s announcement article said before it was changed.
IGN’s staffer who wrote the subheadline disparaging mobile, a particular insult to IGN’s own mobile coverage, which has been running since back in the days of flip phones. The mobile editor actually changed the headline a day later. Still, whlie they may have a section dedicated to mobile coverage, there’s still clearly a mindset that it’s something negative.
Despite all the great experiences on mobile devices, in genres both familiar and new, still there is disrespect. is just unfair. The people that make these games are gamers, often long-time ones. I’ve spoken to many of them. The App Store has provided new opportunities that just weren’t there before. I write about mobile games, but I’ve been a gamer for almost my whole life. Mobile games are legitimate games. That the games are using new interfaces doesn’t make them any less so.
The irony is that a game like Deus Ex: The Fall is exactly what will legitimize the platform: this is a deep game that’s being released for touchscreen devices. It’s not perfect – it uses the flawed dual virtual stick control method along with touchscreen interface elements, but everything about the game sounds like it will live up to what the series has been known for, just in a smaller, more mobile-friendly package. This promises to be a legitimate Deus Ex experience that can be played while waiting for the bus.
And while this may be coming a bit early, mobile gaming getting the ‘legitimacy’ of controllers and TV gaming is not far away. Apple just approved a controller standard, and there’s million of AirPlay-compatible Apple TV devices. On the Android side, where gamepads are already supported, consoles are already making their way out. There’s Ouya, GameStick, GamePop, and a million more.
Apple’s reference specification for iOS 7 gamepads. Will this be good enough for games like Deus Ex: The Fall for the skeptical? (via Pocket Gamer)
Because if just the presence of Deus Ex on mobile isn’t enough, what will be for those who still disrespect mobile?
So for the gamers who still disparage mobile, I say this: give it a chance. Don’t be mad that the new Deus Ex is going to be on mobile. Be glad that a new version is coming out, and that a wider audience will be able to experience it. And give mobile gaming a fair shake. It’s not all Candy Crush Saga; there are a lot of fun experiences out there in pretty much every genre under the sun. Games are games. Come enjoy these, and let go of your hate!
As you may know by now, Square Enix has announcedDeus Ex: The Fall, which is coming to iOS this summer. It’s a game that has me excited to see how well it performs on the iPad, and our lovely friends at Pocket Gamer had the opportunity to go hands-on with the game.
Mark Brown mentions in his article that it looks a lot like Deux Ex: Human Revolution, which it does take place around the same timeline. He also mentions that it has all the main elements that makes it feel like a Deus Ex game, with the action, stealth, and hacking, and that it’s a proper attempt at creating the full experience on mobile.
Square Enix has announced a new title in the DEUS EX series, and it’s coming soon to iOS this summer. DEUS EX: The Fall is a story-driven action-RPG set during 2027, a golden era for science, technology, and human augmentation. It’s also a time of social divide and global conspiracy as corporations have taken control of drug supplies needed for augmented humans to survive. Players will follow Ben Saxson, a former British SAS Mercenary who underwent augmentation himself, as he sets out to find the truth behind the conspiracy.
DEUS EX: The Fall is being developed by Square Enix’s Mobile division while working in collaboration with the original DEUS EX: Human Revolution team at Eidos-Montreal.
“We’re really excited to continue the DEUS EX series on mobile and start a new journey”, said Jean-François Dugas, Executive Game Director at Eidos-Montréal. “The team has done an incredible job creating a whole new story and controls for intuitive touch screen gameplay, whilst staying true to the DEUS EX universe. Players can expect exploration, action, hacking, stealth, social enhancers, player choice and consequence- the full DEUS EX experience.”
They’re exited, I’m excited, we all should be excited! It’s so exciting! Check out the video below!