In terms of perception, small screen is still perceived as a toy platform by the majority of people. Angry Birds is seen as the flagship of mobile gaming.
The market is huge and ready, we'll talk about it later, but it's a unique market from a creator and consumer perspective. Cheap development, easy access to games.
The offer is still composed in great part by casual games, but there is already a significant share of richer experiences.
There is a good demand for these new game genres on this platform, and people are demanding, expecting parity with other platforms in terms of experience.
So, what are these experiences made of?
Sound is clearly important, you can even center your game around it.
Graphics are also important, sometimes crucial to tell a good story, convey expressions and emotions. Walking Dead, Modern Combat 4 or many other games are good examples of what can be achieved on this platform.
Real Racing 3
Modern Combat 4
Another important factor is the story. Deep, meaningful stories create a good emotional response, long lasting experience. Games like Walking Dead demonstrate how they're possible in this platform, uses sound (good voice acting, sfx, ambient), graphics (detailed character expressions) to tell the story.
Modern Combat 4
Galaxy on Fire II
Controls, this is where this starts to get interesting. You can’t play a game you can’t… play. And this platform has some unique challenges that require new approaches, it’s not a direct transition, there are no physical buttons. That’s not necessarily an issue, games like Sky Gamblers, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Spider-Man, Galaxy on Fire, Need for Speed, are good examples of how you can solve this problem well. The lack of physical buttons means there’s room for error correction and flexibility, adaptive controls, where areas and patterns describe the player’s intention. Patterns have emerged and specific game types have specific control ‘standards’. Direct manipulation also makes a big difference (next couple of slides):
Mass Effect: Infiltrator
Or gameplay. Spider-Man is a good example of rich gameplay, you can complete the main story/mission, or you can upgrade your character, complete side-missions, free roam the city. Final Fantasy has made its way into this platform, another example of complex mechanics (battle system, character upgrades, etc)
So we've talked about how this platform has no impediments to hosting a rich gaming experience but does it have anything unique to it? It does, so lets to through them.
It has a fully digital distribution channel. No physical medium, just tap to install. App Store.
It can sense the world like no other. All of these devices feature cameras, gyroscopes, compasses, GPS, just to name a few. You have more to play with, you can create new game genres.
Turns out, these devices actually pack a punch. They can be always connected, have plenty of storage, multiple core processors, plenty of ram. They're very capable devices.
These devices are always with you. That also enables new game genres, and being always online, you can play anywhere and talk to your players at any time. Best example of this is obviously causal gaming, but imagine you want an item to appear only at 8pm, or the player needs to be in a dark room to reveal something in the game.
Is cheap. There's no special hardware, SDKs are free, testing your game can be done by sending an email (TestFlight), gathering feedback is also painless. All this opens the door to indie game developers, which leads to innovation through democratization, and doesn't require you to compromise your story for something that sells since you can release episodic content, a pilot, tv-series-style. Game Center/etc
So lets look at one of these experiences.
The game is Sky Gamblers, console quality.
And let's focus on its Party Mode, where up to four players can use their mobile phones to control their plane that's displayed on an external screen, over the air.
We'll be using an iPhone, iPad and AirPlay to stream the game over to my laptop.
This will be fun.
Small screen gaming will change a lot of things.
This is a paradigm shift
It amplifies and centralizes what we use our small screens for.
A side note, but this will also change TV, and what a tv is. Content consumption on small screens, pushed to the larger screens.
So, it is just a small screen?
So, it is a second screen?
Maybe it's a first screen.
All of these fit in your pocket, so does your tv, console. Dedicated hardware doesn’t seem to prevail. Phones have shorter lifespans than, say, consoles or set top boxes, with some people getting a completely new device yearly.
Unique market, easy to develop for. There’s demand.
Unique sensors, hardware, software features (push notifications, airplay).
This enables new approaches to gameplay, controls, episodic titles, indie, always-with-you-personal-hub that can push content over to a second screen.