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Friday, 25 October 2013

Gaming on the Go: How connected experiences would shape this industry

EA announced recently that it’s working on a high end Battlefield game for mobile. As per a report on Polygon: "We are working on a mobile game of Battlefield that will be high-end and high performance," Gibeau said. "It's our bet that we can successfully pull that off. But we're embarking on something no one has ever done before — to get these games to inter-operate between platforms. Will it work? It already has in some cases. Will it work for all franchises? Not all franchises will make the transition. Battlefield might be a little harder." What does it mean for gaming? Is it the advent of something new or just an announcement to create the hype?

With the evolution of games, the increase in the number of gamers & the proliferation of the variety of devices, I believe that the next possible step in evolution should be the games that people can play across the different platforms available. What would be awesome is that I can stop playing my favorite game on my console, switch it off and then on the way to my office, I can pick the game up again on my iphone. That would be completely awesome. It would allow me the chance to keep on playing my favorite game without the breaks enforced by the platform restrictions. “The player should never stop playing”, this is the dream of every game developer. Making the game functional across different platforms would be a huge step in this direction.

How would this be beneficial to the developer? I think the answer is obvious that it would allow the players to have a continuous experience. But is the extra effort required to make the game cross platform justified? I think so. The biggest problem that most games face is the number of competition for the limited gaming time of the player. This holds true especially for console games which is facing huge amount of competition from mobile games that offer great affordable experience. If the console games can somehow manage to take up the time spent by its player on mobile in playing their own games, I guess they would be in a much better situation as far as competing for the game time is concerned.

The benefit for making games cross platform are huge but they should not be forced for all kinds of games. I think the mobile counterpart of the console games should be able to offer quality experience & value addition to the overall game. If not then it would appear forced and would be quickly shunted by the community. It would work best where there is a lot of social interaction or where the player can decide on some strategy for the upcoming mission. Lets take an example to elaborate this point. Consider making a first person shooter where the player has to go through the different missions. While the main game would be played on the console at home which would involve most of the action, the player can take up various other parts of the game like procuring ammo, training the character to acquire different skills or getting help from allies (could be a social component) on their smart phones. This would allow a continuous experience & hence be involved with their favorite game longer. A win-win situation for both the developer & the player.

While creating these kind of connected experiences, some more points would need to be taken care of. The mobile experiences should be designed in such a way that it would be run on different kind of devices. It should not be too process intensive that it is compatible with only a few high-end configurations else it runs the danger of not being mass adopted. Also it should not given an undue advantage to a gamer with a high-end mobile device as compared to someone with a simpler smartphone. If the platform or the OS is the same, it should provide the same experience.
Connected experiences would be a huge step forward for gaming. I would love to play a game or enjoy a universe that doesn’t make me stop just because I am not at home or not connected to a particular system. I would love to keep on playing, only stopping when I want to & I believe there are many more like me. Hopefully the great minds in this industry would manage to come up with something that fulfills just that & take the giant leap forward.

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Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.

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