I am beginning to wonder if the mobile market has truly stagnated. It may seem obvious, glancing upon the same games again and again. The developers change, the art changes, but ultimately it’s the same UI and the same mechanics in the same order again and again. Clearly, you might say, the mobile market must be the epicenter of consumerist gameplay. Shallow and petty, hungering for nothing but your coin.
A voice tickles at the folds of my brain when I think this. It says, maybe it isn’t so. That perhaps there are plenty of good games coming out. Thoughtful games that look to raise money by satisfying you, rather than by manipulating you. I see glimmers of it through word of mouth. Titles that never come across the front page, or search pages, or suggested pages. They seem like phantoms hiding within the dusty halls of the mobile market.
And then, I begin to wonder. Is it perhaps not the games, but the algorithms? The mobile markets get a cut of the profits that are made through their distribution system. With that in mind there is a strong incentive for them to promote titles that milk the customer. There is, by contrast, no incentive for them to promote engaging or interesting titles. Those might make some money but they’ll never reach the startling heights of exploitation that something like “Game of War” does.
You might be a soothing serum, but the odds are good that you aren’t as addictive as cigarettes. And this is how the competition goes. Developers are up against concentrated drugs that have been honed over many years of research and practice. And worse still they are up against those drugs in a market run by drug dealers.
That was a bit hyperbolic, but permit me on occasion to write something bombastic. Feels good, trust me, try it. It is a charged word “drug”. But I don’t think you’ll find much argument against the accuracy of it in the domain of psychology. I’m not saying that something is “bad” because it is a drug, that is foolhardy. I’m just saying that in this instance, the drugs in question, are.
So, perhaps, this is the true problem of the mobile market. The incentive of the algorithms is to maximize revenue. And maximum revenue is inherently going to be incongruous with good game design. You might make “a fair bit” or even “a lot” of money with a good game, but to make maximum returns? You need to absolutely devour people, starting from their feet.