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.
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.
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.
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
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.
2017 was a pretty outstanding year for mobile games, and one we won't soon forget. While you might still be working through your back log of positively brilliant games from the past year, we're still excited to see what the next year has in store. While we're expecting plenty of surprises along the way (that's the nature of the biz, after all), there are quite a few games already announced that we're eager to get a hold of. Here are five of our most anticipated games of 2018.