The death of Infinity Blade is the end of an era for iPhone and iPad gaming
You could use the launch of Infinity Blade to mark the point where the second age of the App Store began. It was a AAA game backed by Apple, shown off at a keynote, and heralded as a new era of quality in iPhone and iPad play. Two more games followed, as well as a cancelled dungeon crawler, and a number of novels that covered the game's extensive lore. It was a franchise in the most modern sense of the word.
But all things move toward their end, and last week the three games were taken down from the App Store. They're still going to be supported for a while, and Epic has mentioned some winding-down content for fans, but the IAPs have already been turned off and you won't find the games when you search for them.
In the overarching narrative of mobile gaming, that's got to be seen as a full stop. It's the Infinity Blade series taking off its crown and laying it at the feet of another Epic property - Fortnite. As I write this, Fortnite is the top-grossing game on the App Store in the US, and it's beaten the game that inspired it, PUBG, in the race to define one of the newest genres on the gaming circuit.
Following the story here reveals the trends that have shaped mobile gaming - Infinity Blade was essentially a single player game with a premium price-point designed from the ground-up for mobile play; Fortnite is a multiplayer-only experience that you can grab for free and that found success on consoles and PC before it made the leap over to mobile.
It feels like an important change because Fortnite, along with a number of other games that have come out this year and are scheduled for the next few months, is an IP that's gained fame elsewhere, and continued that success in the switch to mobile. And it's likely that that's going to lead to more developers trying out more complex versions of their franchises on mobile.
Blizzard is already showing the way with an exclusively mobile Diablo game called Diablo Immortal, and a commitment to bring its other IP to iPhone, iPad, and Android as well. In terms of gaming paradigm shifts, this one feels akin to the switch from 2D to 3D in the home console market - that was a time when some of the biggest names in gaming fell by the wayside while developers tried to figure out how to make them work on the powerful new hardware.
Fortnite, PUBG, and more, prove that players on mobile are looking for something that's closer to the home experience. While the Infinity Blade series is a classic, it's squarely stuck in what's now looking more and more like mobile gaming's distant past - a time well before anyone thought that the midcore market existed, let alone saw it as the best way to make money with games on the go.
Are we sad to see Infinity Blade go? You bet we are. It's a series that's always going to be close to our hearts, because it represents one of the key steps in bringing iPhone and iPad gaming to the mainstream - for that we'll be eternally grateful. But the nature of modern gaming is change - games aren't for life anymore, and we're going to have to get used to that.
The Infinity Blade series stood for a few years as the pinnacle of the mobile gaming world - it was something we could all point to and say 'look what the devices we love so much can do.' Now though, with huge games coming out left right and centre, and our phones and tablets more powerful than ever, the cycle has turned.
Infinity Blade was always about death and rebirth, and now it's lived long enough to see its own prophecy fulfilled. It was great while it lasted, and this is absolutely the end of an era - but as the last statue of the old is toppled, we can't help but feel excited about what may be erected in its place.