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6 Video Game Mechanics That Don’t Translate Well to Mobile Gaming


If there’s something painfully obvious about the rise of mobile media, it’s the fact that console video games may have to adapt to survive, or on the flip side, mobile games may not be able to provide the deeper experience that console games can, as certain mechanics involved in traditional gaming simply don’t translate particularly well to the mobile arena. Be it due to the fact that the platform is inherently small or that it’s—also by nature—portable, there are a few quirks that folks have come to associate with gaming that stand out as bad ideas for mobile gaming.

1. Dual analog sticks

Dual analog sticks for mobile platforms like phones and similar devices just aren’t there yet to properly support any kind of game that requires them. Whether it’s tangible plastic, or the on-screen versions of the little sticks or nubs that seem to have become popular recently, there’s really no good option here. It comes down to the lesser of two evils more often than not.

2. MMO Games

As anyone who has been with AT&T for any length of time can attest, their lines go down at the most inopportune of moments. Imagine, if you will, a small MMORPG application where you and your guild are in the middle of a raid. Also imagine that you then hit a dead zone and don’t receive service until long after your guild has wiped and you’ve been booted. Yeah.

3. High Definition

Sure, the little index card screen does show some impressive textures, but those tiny screens were made specifically for that kind of device. Trying to squeeze a game that usually rests its laurels on top of its technical achievements—like Crysis 2, for example—into that itty-bitty screen is another matter entirely. That’s without going into the horrors of blurring.

4. Meaningful Cutscenes

Anything that requires some length of time and the attention of the player is probably a no-no for mobile gaming. Nothing epitomizes this kind of mechanic better than the cutscene. Even the smaller of cutscenes would likely still be an issue for someone who tends to play while waiting in line, on planes, and just in general.

5. Fast Movement

Remember when I talked about “the horrors of blurring” in number three? Welp, that’s what happens when you try to move too fast on something without the power to process said movement. Running? Best tone that down to a crawl. Racing games? Try a different platform because this one probably won’t cut it.

6. Complex User Interface

In the same way that there just isn’t enough screen for high definition to be of much use, any kind of game that requires menus, complex user interfaces or anything that resembles either is going to have a tough time. It’s unlikely that there will ever be a port of Baldur’s Gate, for example, and even if they did manage to do it, I’d suggest preparing for the eventual uproar over the UI changes now.

Though mobile gaming has its place, and many developers have created fantastic, deep, worthwhile mobile experiences, certain traditional mechanics just won’t ever translate too well to mobile gaming, without, of course, the introduction of some crazy futuristic technology that we currently can’t even begin to imagine.

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