Yes, you read that title right.
Mobile games, the games with annoying pop-up ads with tiny x buttons that you inevitably miss and end up opening the app store instead. Mobile games, the games with in-app purchases that give you the choice between burning hours and days to progress or spending money on a “free” game in order to win. Mobile games, the games that somehow end up being the same ten games duplicated over and over with various popular themes.
Those games have value.
Unlike consoles, almost everyone owns a smartphone nowadays. We carry them around in our pockets and use them to stay connected with each other. When games are available on mobile devices, they have access to a wider market than any console game. Anyone who already has a smartphone, tablet, or another mobile device already has everything they need to play almost any mobile game. This accessibility means that mobile games should be accepted, in theory. We have access to these games, so why not support those who play them?When we devalue mobile games, when we talk about them as lesser or illegitimate, we are cutting off part of our own community.
Another advantage for mobile games is price. While paying sixty dollars for a console game is considered normal, and PC games vary in price, a large number of mobile games are either free or only a few dollars. Getting started in a mobile game doesn’t require paying a large amount of money for a game you might not even like. Instead, you just look up games that fit your interests on your device’s app store and download whatever you want, then delete it later if you decide you’d rather not keep playing. There are SO MANY free games out there, so you can try a large variety without paying a penny. The ads can be annoying for free games, and the in-app purchases that often feel necessary (and can become addictive) are more than a little bit of an issue. However, a few things having problems should not necessarily lead to us completely giving up on this style of game. Also, many non-mobile games include paid upgrades, abilities, skins, and lootboxes. Why not encourage the playing of free and low-cost games?
When we think of mobile games, we tend to think of them as “less-than” compared to games for other platforms. Yes, they can have less of a storyline than a traditional console game. Yes, they tend to have more straightforward controls and simpler gameplay. Yes, they can get annoying at times with their ads and content locked behind in-app purchase paywalls. But does that make them less capable of being seen as valid games, or does that make those who play them not legitimate gamers? Not one bit.
I’m in my twenties, and the only console I own is a Nintendo Switch. I purchased said Switch in March 2020 to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons … because I’d enjoyed playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on my phone. I found this game called Among Us when someone at work kept mentioning it, so I downloaded it on my phone, and now I own it on Steam and play weekly with a group of friends that stream to the LTN Radio Twitch channel. Mobile games have led to me trying more PC and console games, but I got my start with video games on my old iPod Touch and my smartphone.
I never had a console of my own growing up. My family had a Wii, along with a good number of games, but I shared it with my sister and my parents and it was kept in the living room. It was fun to play, but if someone else needed the TV then I couldn’t play. I also would play a few games on the family computer, but those were the days when the entire family shared one computer, so my time was seriously limited. When I got an iPod Touch in junior high, that was the first time I’d owned a device of my own that I could play games on! No longer would I have to wait for someone else to be done, but now I could play games when I wanted to play even if the TV and computer were both in use. Mobile games are what got me started with playing games solo, long before I had a computer of my own that could run more complex games. I was a mobile gamer first, and I still play mobile games from time to time.
When we devalue mobile games, when we talk about them as lesser or illegitimate, we are cutting off part of our own community. Do these games have problems? Yes. But so do games on every platform, and that does not mean we should completely discount mobile games. Not everyone has access to, or the funds to purchase, the newest consoles or the most popular new games. For many, mobile games are the video games they can play. We are all one community of nerds, and we should not cut off some of our number simply for the platform they choose.