iOS’s Disposable Games

The other day I was looking through drawings of classic Nintendo characters and I realized that I haven’t replayed any videos games in a long time. In high school and university I spent a lot of my time replaying the games I grew up with like Metroid, Zelda and Final Fantasy. Most of the games I play today are on iOS and while I’ll usually play a new game frequently once it’s released, after about two or three weeks I’ll drop it forever.

Even though the selection of games on iOS is huge, and the hardware is more powerful, the games are short-lived. I don’t go back to games again and again on iOS like I used to do on SNES and I don’t find the games being made worth replaying. I don’t touch free games, but even when I pay $0.99-$1.99 for an iOS game, I’m buying a disposable game. 

Maybe it has to do with the economics of developing mobile games, because I don’t find any difference between the games by popular development companies compared to the games made by small studios and independent developers.

I’ve come to accept that when a new game comes out for iOS, I’m going to play it almost obsessively for the first three weeks before I drop it forever. Which is fine. I get some enjoyment from playing the game, and hopefully if enough people buy the game the developer will have the incentive to make another one.

I’m not sure what qualities are missing that contribute to the short lasting power of iOS games. Was it the gameplay, music, characters, graphics, or story that had me play games like Mario, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy VI, Pokemon or Harvest Moon over and over again?

Those games had a much bigger influence on my life. I can list the games I grew up with, I can explain you their plots, describe the main characters, and I can still recognize their music when I hear it. I spent a lot more time discussing games and with friends back then too. It’s all these things that contribute to the experience I’m sad is missing from iOS gaming.

Maybe the solution is higher production games from larger developers that are priced higher. Square Enix is the only studio from my past who is bringing their older games over to iOS while still making new ones. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’ll always be able to play Final Fantasy one more time.

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