Where’s all the Mobile?

It’s no secret that the sales of mobile devices have skyrocketed in the last five years, especially in relation to PC sales. It’s also pretty apparent that one of the main goals of an MMO is to tempt players into spending as much time as possible playing the game, thinking about the game, and contributing to the game. Why, then, don’t more MMO’s supplement the base PC game with some sort of mobile element? The devices are prolific. The opportunity is ripe to keep players thinking about and interacting with your game all throughout the day, as they have a few spare minutes.

mobilegraph

Some gamers tend to obsess about the differences between casual/mobile gaming and hard-core PC gaming. But are the demographics really that different? Or do the same people who slay demons in an MMO by night pass a few minutes of boredom with Candy Crush during the day? And even if the demographics are different, why not try to expand your player base by adding mobile elements that compliment – or could even be played in place of – the main game? Major game studios seem to be ignoring the trends, as the latest three MMO’s of note (ESO, Wildstar and Archeage) all launched without a mobile offering. To do so in any other major tech-related field would be considered short-sighted. While RIFT does have an official mobile application, it feels very…anemic. It seems like they developed it to be able to say that they have a mobile app.

From the recent post Girls Playing More Video Games Than Boys, regarding British gamers:

apps are the most popular video game format (played by 55% of the online population).

The next most popular format was online games (48%) followed by disc-based games (40%).

More than one in four (27%) people played all three formats, rising to 70% of 8-12 year olds.

Mobile concepts that I think MMO’s should consider including:

Crafting

I know some people really like the crafting aspects of MMO’s. I like the idea of making items for myself, guildmates and the auction house, but with my limited play time, I hate the fact that in order to level up crafting, I must sacrifice an entire evening’s play session. Imagine setting your character in motion during lunch break and coming home to a full-fledged smithy!

Inventory Management & In-Game Mail

I really can’t think of any reason that I should have to fire up the game client on DX11 through my dedicated GPU in order to drag stationary icons into little boxes. Like crafting, sorting inventory is not something I want to spend my evenings doing, and would be an easy thing to pop in and out of while riding on an elevator or waiting for the bus to arrive. Likewise, checking and sending in-game mail would be an obvious convenience.

Guild Chat

This is the one thing that I thought RIFT got right. Offline guild chat allows guildmates to connect outside of game, plan events, and check to see who’s in game. It’s ironic that the very games that depend on player interaction to survive are stuck in the pre-web 2.0 world with regards to integrated social features. Don’t think so? Why do players need to create external guild pages just to stay in touch with guild friends and organize events? Shouldn’t these features be built directly into Massive Multiplayer games? Constant connection requires mobility, and the platforms of today are perfect for this type of integration.

Cosmetic Management

Makes sense, right? Pull out your phone, try on outfits from your inventory, bags and even……

The Store

Here’s where the suits should perk up their ears. Imagine the possibilities, here: easy and immediate access to crafting ingredients, cosmetics, inventory slots. Smartphones were practically invented for this type of commerce. Micro-transactions are very often impulse purchases, but how much of an “impulse” can a purchase be when you’ve got to wait until you are home sitting in front of a computer to open up your wallet? MMO’s have long tried to figure out how to use the micro-transaction model within their games, but have completely ignored the devices on which these business models have seen the most success.

Auction House

There is a certain type of player who really enjoys the economic aspect of MMO’s. These folks can turn trading and in-game commerce into a sort of mini-game unto themselves. So, turn it into a mini-game! This constant, immediate access to the AH would also boost the economic activity within the game, increasing competition and availability of goods. Cash flow equals a healthy economy.

Travel

This is less of an issue in most games today, due to immediate travel to beacons and discovered milestones throughout the game. Travel isn’t nearly as tedious as it used to be. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to have a moment of inspiration on your commute to work that you’d love to mine some ore in the land of far, far away but have inexplicably parked your toon on the doorstep of nearby? No problem, launch your mobile app and tell him/her to start walking. By the time you’re able to grab your pickaxe that evening, he/she would be in exactly the right spot to dig!

Minion Training

This only really applies to games like STO or AC:Brotherhood where groups of minions are sent on missions to level up their skills. Again, perfect fodder for a mini-game, and an opportunity to keep your game’s brand placed blatantly in front of a player’s nose.

In the day and age of MMO’s trying to be everything to everybody, I’m constantly surprised that they don’t also attempt to be more convenient, immediate and social. Mobile apps that compliment the main game would fill all three of these gaps.

scr.ee tags:

#MMO #Mobile

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11 thoughts on “Where’s all the Mobile?

  1. Fredelas (@BrandywineFred) September 20, 2014 / 3:36 pm

    I think in LOTRO, the Hobbit Presents system would make a great mobile app! Something to get people thinking about the game every day, even if they can’t log in every day.

    Like

  2. Pasduil September 20, 2014 / 6:17 pm

    Things that I’d certainly like to be able to do without the whole rigmarole of firing up a PC client, logging in, waiting for the load screens, etc…

    – Check if any of my friends or kinnies are online
    – Check if I have any mail
    – Check if my stuff on auction house sold
    – Check if anything I want to buy is avail on AH at a decent price
    – See if a group is being formed for content I want to run

    Since I play several chars on two servers, it’s quite a hassle to check all the permutations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sig September 22, 2014 / 8:03 am

    While not a traditional MMO that most of us are used to, with Destiny’s launch also came a mobile app that is actually pretty useful for certain things.

    All of the character data that is available on a players Bungie.net profile is also on the mobile app, as well as a direct tie in to the official forums and other things. It is actually the first time I’ve been able to say a companion app is useful.

    Like

  4. tsuhelm September 22, 2014 / 8:12 am

    The AH store app would be great…mail returns on those old alts on strange servers that I havn’t played on in some time useful(ish) but what they really need to do is actually design something ingame that is really time consuming but easily manageable remotely…I would say monitoring crafting cooldowns or training.

    While talking about apps I have yet to find a GOOD game for free on ANDROID! Suggestions?

    Like

    • Pasduil September 22, 2014 / 10:41 am

      That’s going to depend a lot on what you think is good, esp in terms of mobile which you might want to play in a very different way than PC games.

      I like Hero Academy, it’s a fun turn-based strategy game. I play on iPad and have paid for the extras, but it’s avail on Android, and the base F2P game is plenty fun in itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tsuhelm September 22, 2014 / 11:05 am

        Will be checking it out as soon as I get home 🙂 THX 🙂

        Like

      • Pasduil September 22, 2014 / 11:30 am

        Tip – Have a few games on the go, so it will always be your turn in some of them when you want to play.

        Be aware if you’re playing random people some of them will drop out part-way through if the game goes on a long time.

        Like

      • tsuhelm September 23, 2014 / 5:18 am

        Another thing I hate about living in Argentina some Android games are NOT in google play!(Generally the ones I get recommended!)

        Hero Academy is one of them!

        Like

      • Pasduil September 23, 2014 / 10:49 am

        Strange. Is it to do with translation?

        There are probably various techie ways to get access to US or UK store, but maybe not worth the hassle.

        Like

  5. GirlsGetGaming September 22, 2014 / 12:43 pm

    Every franchise seems to have a cartoon, a movie, a game, an app, a website, yet it’s rare to see any inter connectivity. The Mass Effect app was an interesting concept, but wasn’t much fun by itself and ended up feeling largely inconsequential.

    I use the WoW mobile armory and auction house app all the time. I wish they’d connected hearthstone more to Warcraft and I’d love to be able to do some pet battling on my i-pad too.

    Like

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