The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can’t let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we’ve created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
Gaming app installs are up 10% compared to 2022
Is it over yet? Green shoots of hope and all that? And yet pinning the blame on 2022 as ‘a bad year’ is actually viewing this whole crazy business from completely the wrong perspective.
Sure 2022 was ‘down’ but that’s just the ghost of Covid coming back from the dead to give us one more nip on the ankle. 2022 ‘down’ was purely because 2021 was so ‘up’ that folks (both making games and consuming them) went a little stir crazy and thought that the ascending bar chart dream could live on forever.
Perhaps someone somewhere really thought that being trapped under lock and key really was ‘the new normal’? Fact is that – mercifully – normality has (by and large) returned and anyone who banked on an unending spiral of captive consumers deserved to get their fingers burnt. And that’s what really happened in 2022.
So it’s great to see that 2023 is getting to where we really should be. Let’s forget awful 2020, the uncertainty of 2021 and erase 2022 as the year when we REALLY lost our minds. Instead let’s cross fingers, touch wood and watch those graphs slide up predictably upwards once more. But not too fast. And not too slow. But just right this time, eh?
Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who only occasionally refers to himself in the third person.
NetEase’s cutesy battle royale, Eggy Party, to launch in the Philippines
I do think part of the bad rap that mobile gets from the rest of the gaming world (however little that may affect the daily operations of the industry) is the huge number of clones that are on the market. Games like Survivor.io and Stumble Guys are great all on their own, but they take a huge amount of inspiration from games such as Vampire Survivors and Fall Guys.
In this vein it’s no surprise that NetEase are hopping onto the “Cutesy gameshow-style battle royale” bandwagon, a little bit late, with Eggy Party. Aside from the unusual egg-theming it seems a pretty simple riff on the “Guys” genre (Accident-prone-guys genre?). With the same kinds of minigames and character customisation.
Aside from the discussion about whether this is a timely game to release after Fall Guys has established itself on console and PC, while Stumble Guys dominates mobile, it also raises the possibility NetEase may be sticking their foot in it again. It wouldn’t be the first time that the company has veered too close to existing properties in its titles, although with Stumble Guys being the most visible it, Eggy Party may fly under the radar.
Aiming the game squarely at China may be a good idea too, as it seems the kind of inoffensive, socially-sound fun that could establish itself well. Could be that NetEase have a hit on their hands. Or another albatross around the neck.
92% of gamers are exclusively using phones
A massive 3,7 billion people are considered gamers, almost half of the world’s population. The figures are huge, with 92% of gamers playing on mobile. Yet, I still find so much stigma attached to the mobile gaming platform.
You know the general talk of “Gaming on mobile isn’t actually gaming,” but clearly, mobile has the numbers. When I ask, “Why isn’t mobile considered gaming?” I often hear that “They are just a cash grab.” Well, to that, I say £70 for a console/PC game that then releases separate paid for DLCs, possibly containing microtransactions, loot boxes, or battle passes. Are those things not intended to take more of your money?
Sure, you can argue that games made for PC and console may cost more to make, but mobile gaming is intended to be easily accessible and simple to pick up and play. These games aren’t all trying to be big and flashy but rather something you have fun playing in smaller doses and want to return to.
Mobile games that balance fair gameplay with the incentive of ‘pay to get things done faster’ isn’t just a mobile concept. Look at GTA Online, one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world. Releasing back in 2013 it now has a similar concept to many mobile games, people keep coming back for new events or updates, and when they can’t get the new shiny car without playing for hours and hours, they simply spend their real money to get it. Don’t even get me started on one of the biggest games in the industry, where people are spending a fortune just on cosmetic items.
The cash grab argument has worn thin, and so too is any notion of mobile gaming not being able to producing high quality products. We’ve come a long way from playing Snakes on an old Nokia and I’m excited to see what games 92% of gamers will be playing in the years to come.
Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He’s been a gamer all his life.
Pop star Jay Chou sues NetEase for copyright infringement
NetEase being accused of copyright infringement is nothing new. Whether there’s any substance, some of the biggest companies and names across industries have faced such claims, whether it’s artists accusing others of plagiarism or seeing their work used without their consent.
This isn’t the first time NetEase has been accused of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property in recent years. It isn’t even the first time they’ve been accused of infringing on Jay Chou’s property. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, but as one of the world’s biggest mobile game makers the company is far from insane. Perhaps the recent struggles faced by the Chinese games industry has led the company to make risky decisions, prioritising short-term profits on the assumption that it can regain its footing in the future? After all, Jay Chou is one of Taiwan’s biggest music artists, with over 30 million records sold and numerous awards over his career.
In a sense, it appears that NetEase is seeking refuge in audacity – if you’re going to use someone’s music without their consent, a massive name like Chou is a bold choice, while the established bad blood between the two avoids the risk of NetEase making new enemies. The previous lawsuit could also be used as precedent, so Chou could easily emerge as the winner of this latest bout.