It’s difficult to remember now, but back when Microsoft first unveiled their always-on, always-connected Xbox One in May 2013, the idea of a console which required a consistent connection to the internet was pretty outrageous.
Home broadband wasn’t what it was today and the idea of an always-on and always-connected console struck fear into the hearts of PC gamers who had encountered DRM solutions which pinged servers consistently, ruining legitimate offline play.
Today, however, the notion is far less controversial. In fact, innovations in online play have meant that drop-in multiplayer experiences, like that experienced in the Dark Souls series, have become commonplace and, frankly, irreplaceable. These nominally ‘offline’ games are dramatically improved through a consistent connection to wireless internet.
Over on mobile, it’s a little different. Early smartphone gaming focused on the single-player experience, only connecting to the internet to query scoreboards or other, inessential, features. As smartphone hardware has grown more capable though, games have grown to take advantage of the increased power.
Simultaneously, 4G mobile internet and greater coverage over even rural areas of the country has meant that these more powerful, more connected devices have become home to online-only mobile experiences. Far from terrifying, these always-connected games are changing the way we perceive mobile platforms, and in this article, we’re going to share the genres which are leading the always-online charge on mobile.
Geocaching and AR
Whilst the likes of Pokémon Go might not enjoy the total cultural domination it once did, geocaching and AR games continue to enjoy huge success across basically every mobile platform. By relying on a mixture of GPS, mobile internet and (sometimes) imaging technology, they bring new worlds to life right in front of our eyes, blending the real with the imagined in ways which change our perception.
Another online gaming option which has found immense popularity amongst smartphone gamers is, of course, casino gaming. Once the reserve of the casino itself and then an experience for home-PC use only, mobile online casinos have brought the thrill to the smartphone and, in turn, revitalised an industry which had seemingly found its level.
Online-only casino games keep players coming back time and time again simply because, well, who doesn’t like winning money?
An MMO? On mobile!? Not so long ago now, the thought was impossible. How do you capture the complexity of an MMO on a device small enough to fit in your pocket? Well, they did it and these days, MMOs are a stalwart of the mobile gaming scene.
From hardcore MMO experiences like Teon, to MMO-lite experiences like Clash of Clans (which helped developer Supercell turn over more than $2.3 billion in 2016), the always-on connection of your smartphone has made these experiences possible.
Shooters have always struggled to gain a serious foothold in mobile simply because, well, touchscreens don’t make for accurate shooter controls. The step down from mouse and keyboard to the controller wasn’t nearly as harsh as the move down to a touchscreen.
However, recent years have seen a significant shift. Why? Well, we can lay the credit at one game – Fortnite. From World Cup dance domination to total world domination, it’s absolutely everywhere and its appearance on mobile platforms makes it playable at any time, from anywhere.