E3 2015 has made mobile gaming look embarrassing

More to mobile than Hearthstone clones

E3 2015 has made mobile gaming look embarrassing
| E3 2015

Why is it that mobile gaming has such a terrible reputation amongst core gamers?

When EA stood up at E3 to discuss the latest AAA surprises everyone listened eagerly. Yet the very moment the word 'mobile' was mentioned, a chorus of groans reverberated around the internet.

EA mobile boss Samantha Ryan might as well have said "Let's talk about your root canal treatment".

It's not like gamers only want big, bombastic games about guns and sports - experiences like No Man's Sky, Media Molecule's Dreams, and the off-the-wall announcements from Nintendo were well received, after all.

And indie console games often go down a storm, while mobile gaming is shunned completely.

Readers of Pocket Gamer all know that mobile games can be brilliant. The best of them offer incredible experiences that you just can't get anywhere else, like Monument Valley, FRAMED, 80 Days, Wayward Souls, and The Room 2 - all made by developers with drastically lower budgets than those on stage at E3.

So why is that the word "mobile" elicits groans whenever it's said on stage?

Not again

It probably has something to do with the type of games that get shown off at these events. Because what iOS games did Bethesda and EA choose to show? Hearthstone clones.

Elder Scrolls: Legends and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. Let's be honest, do we need more mobile card battlers? The App Store and Google Play are absolutely flooded with them.

This isn't the first time this has happened either. Game of Thrones, Kim Kardashian, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Marvel and many more big names have been tied to games in the most infested genres on mobile: strategy management titles, card battlers, and match three puzzlers.

It's no wonder that mobile gaming has such a bad reputation amongst console and PC gamers. The few games that they're exposed to in the media are the likes of Game of War (sold by Kate Upton', and soon-to-be Mariah Carey's bust), Clash of Clans, Hearthstone, and Candy Crush Saga.

Not bad games in their own right but they're hideously over-cloned and don't represent the sheer innovation available elsewhere on mobile.

And that's a problem compounded by the fact that developers who have the financial backing to take risks and, dare we say it, create something innovative, would rather play it safe and exploit their own AAA IPs and create something that could never possibly fail so they can make easy money.

Not so-AAA

And while we're on the subject, how exactly does AAA get away with shoveling out the same game over and over again yet gamers still flock in droves to get a chance to see or play it.

E3 is dominated by three types of supposed AAA games: sequels, HD remakes, and clones yet time and time again gamers lap this up then complain later about the lack of innovation.

And yes, exceptions to that rule do exist - No Man's Sky and For Honor do look set to innovate in the AAA space but that's a mere two games at the biggest console convention in the West.

Yet in the first half of this year alone, mobile games like Fearless Fantasy, Planet Quest, Skiing Yeti Mountain, Shadowmatic, and Gunbrick have offered genuinely innovative and new experiences on a platform that's despised by the very same gamers who are desperate for change.

Poor exposure

The solution is easy: the giants of AAA development need to take a serious look at the best of what mobile gaming has to offer and at least try to create generally new and innovative versions of their franchises on mobile.

I have no doubt that this is exactly what Nintendo plans to do but it's a shame that financially successful developers seem satisfied with only releasing quick cash-grabs and clones in an industry where the greatest games are made by one guy in his bedroom in his pants.

I'll be fair - Fallout Shelter might be yet another free to play strategy management title but with a Fallout twist, but it's a step in the right direction nonetheless.

And Lara Croft Go, a gorgeous puzzler with a Monument Valley-esque aesthetic which was announced at Square Enix's event, made gamers forget that they hate the App Store for a few minutes.

So if mobile gaming is to move into a place where it can receive the respect it deserves, then, at the very least, AAA developers need to respect the platform itself.

If they can tear themselves away from the top grossing charts for a moment, we may well see more games like Monument Valley, Threes!, and Alto's Adventure at E3, and fewer like Minions: Whatever The Hell it's Called.