On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss Android gaming. As mobile devices become more and more capable, they increasingly take over from specialized devices as our go-to gaming gadgets. Handheld consoles are already struggling for relevance, and some think that, eventually, large game consoles will have the same fate. We’re still far from that day, but the signs are encouraging.
Do you game on your Android device? If so, what’s your favorite gaming device? Tablet or smartphone? Do you use a controller? Where do you see gaming on Android in a few years?
Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!
I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid, so I can’t help but sneak in a game of Tetris or Dots whilst sitting on the tube. Android certainly isn’t my preferred gaming platform, nevertheless it’s managed to clock up a fair few hours.
For the most part though, I’ve found gaming on Android to be a bit of a disappointment, bar emulators which allow me to boot up some childhood classics. I’m reluctant to blame touch controls too much, as Bluetooth controllers can be paired up rather easily, and strategy and puzzle games work well enough. But the platform could certainly use better support for proper gaming peripherals.
Instead, I think there’s something rotten at the core of mobile gaming, with content creators far too eager to cave in to cash grab game mechanics rather than producing something that’s fun and challenging to play. Part of this could due to consumers unwilling to spend money in the same way as traditional gamers, in which case this might be a problem that we are doomed to be stuck with.
But despite my complaints, gaming on Android is looking up. Hardware is constantly moving forwards, with Nvidia’s Tegra 5 chips set to give us another boost in graphics quality. Similarly, graphics API’s, such as OpenGL, are finally being adopted, and will be used to produce higher quality content more akin to the serious gaming scene.
Interestingly, with PC gaming taking another look at Linux, see Valve’s SteamOS, there’s the possibility that more serious game developers might be more interested Linux support in the not too distant future, and some of that could transfer to Android, particularly if there’s wider use of OpenGL.
This doesn’t mean that Android will be a serious contender to the likes of Sony or Microsoft any time soon, but there’s no reason why Android couldn’t become the new Gameboy or a competitor to portable devices like the PS Vita, providing that the platform can attract a better variety of developers.
I’m of the opinion that anything more than a puzzle game requires a larger screen than my 4.7-5-inch smartphone display provides. Therefore, most of my Android gaming happens on my tablet of choice, the Nexus 7 (2013).
For those of you who are tooting the horn of Android gaming catching up and even taking over PC or console gaming, forget that, it’s simply not going to happen any time soon. In fact, being perfectly realistic, Android needs to first surpass iOS in the gaming aspect where Apple still holds a major advantage as far as actual games go (although the gap has narrowed significantly in recent years).
Where Android holds its biggest advantage, and arguably also its biggest weakness, is the fact that it can run on pretty much anything. We’ve already seen Android consoles like the Ouya and the Gamestick, and while they’ve found their niche, they’re yet to break into the mainstream.
Mobile games are good, great even. It only takes a single look at games like Asphalt 8 and Riptide GP2 to realise that we’ve come a long way since the classic mobile games Snake and Space Impact. And with a little know how, you can hook up your PS3 controller to your phone or tablet for some heavier gaming (assuming the developer has tweaked his game to work well on controllers).
But while mobile games have improved, they still aren’t anywhere as immersive as PC and console gaming. Sure mobile gaming can get addictive and you can find yourself wasting more time on a game of Candy Crush than you should have, but I’ve never found myself aching to get to home and back to my Nexus 7 to play a game of Riptide GP2. It just doesn’t happen.
Android gaming serves a purpose, it’s great entertainment for a quick buck on a bus or a train. Perhaps another issue with mobile gaming and Android gaming in particular is consumer’s love for free stuff leading to the much maligned freemium approach. Mobile game developers don’t have anywhere near the budget that console developers have, and when freemium is so popular, the budget suffers even more.
While mobile gaming will continue to improve, its current restrictions mean it’ll be quite a while until I give up my PS3 (soon to be PS4). When one in ten games is a rip off of Temple Run, it’s hard to get excited, so my plea to developers is to show some originality. Games like Super Hexagon are great examples of mobile games. My plea to Sony, the Playstation Vita uses hardware similar to the Xperia Z1 and it can stream PS4 games. How about some PS4 streaming for us Sony smartphone users?
I’m strictly a fan of casual gaming on mobile. Ever since I purchased a Windows tablet (don’t kill me), it has been difficult to justify playing “hardcore” titles on my comparatively underpowered and tiny Galaxy S4. As a result, I only ever play a select few games on my smartphone, essentially anything that isn’t overtly commercialistic or laden with microtransactions.
I’ll admit my taste in video games is part of the problem. I don’t often have time to game, so when I do, I either prefer (1) AAA games I’ve learned to master, (2) open-world games with goals accomplishable in a sitting, and (3) pick-up titles that require very little investment. Basically, I prefer my hour or two of escapism to consist mostly of the emotional reward conferred by achievement, rather than frustration with unfamiliar controls. I’ll be the first to say many games on Android are brilliant, but I just can’t imagine spending the time required to learn how to play them.
I guess I’m really waiting for the day when smartphones become powerful enough to handle console games. +Adam Koueider mentioned game streaming as an option, but as anyone who has tried to use OnLive with a 3G connection can attest, it’s just not the same. I think I’ll only truly be satisfied when I can play my old favorites like The Elder Scrolls and Red Dead Redemption on mobile. For the moment, Osmos will have to do.
What do YOU think?
Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.
How often do you game on Android?
What's your primary Android gaming device?
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Either Xbox or PS3 with Sony HMZ T1 headmounted display.
How can 0 votes have 1%? Internet logic.
Honestly? PC is my main gaming system.
Brutally honest? I only game while I’m taking a dump. And that’s too erratic.
But Carmageddon does make crapping easier.
+1 for brutally honest. Same here.
+1 for Carmageddon making crapping easier!
Now that was brutal indeed… an honesty moment i didn’t wanna read, thats for sure. Please in the future do not share that kind of information with us again… :-/
Deal. Next time, I’ll think of something else.
I always liked to play the old nintendo roms on PC but nowadays my screen is so large so I get a better feeling playing on a tablet or smarphone with an bluetooth controller (or with the wii remote).
PC duh, the hardcore gamer’s choice :)
I never imagined you as a gamer. I don’t know why though.
I’m not like hardcore gamer in a way most people think HC gamers are, to me a hardcore gamer is a guy who can play graphically heavy games on his/her computer at full res without lag and/or has over 300fps in Minecraft :D
…and/or has over 300fps in CRYSIS 5 :D
That’s just impossible :D
BF4 ? :-)
Strange, I always thought hardcore gamer is one that play Duck Hunt on real NES, taking Starcraft competition, and competing with his own kids over ps3 controller to play GTA V … :D
I like video games. I play in PC, PS3, Nintendo 3DS, and PS Vita. I rarely play games on my android devices, but when I do, I wouldn’t call it gaming. It is little casual games. My favorite games right now are GTA V and Pokemon X, but if I had to choose a favorite platform, it would be PC.
I’m not a gamer at all, but I do play a few casual games on my phone everyday.
nexus 7 ftw
I play with my peniis
I am sure thats what you were doing when you posted your message… it does look inspired!
LOL, I’m sure it’s motivating enough.. :D
So I sit here at work with at an automotive parts counter waiting for wholesale calls to come in. On my down time I find myself playing anything I can get my hands on. Dead Trigger, Modern Combat, ShadowGun, COD:BOZ and so on. All are FPS and have completely filled the void of not really being able to play too much at home lately. I’ve been a PC gamer for years and 2 years ago my brother bought me an XBOX360. I’ve always hated using controller and praised using the mouse and Keyboard. Just like the touchscreen it was hard to get used to. But I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
Oh, what I don’t like so much about gaming on PC is the keyboard and mouse. Graphics can be so awesome and games too, but, if I could use a PS3-like controller for any game I’d invest in my PC. The keyboard feels a bit awkward for me.
Oh but you can! Just about every game made for PC nowadays has the format of an XBOX controller built right in. Also you can just plug the usb cable from your PS3 controller right in and that even works great. Once you get in the game there might be some button mapping that needs to be done. But once done, you’re all good. I’ve spent tons of money on my PC’s over the years and the graphics can definately be amazing in comparison to consoles.
I prefer gaming on my Nexus 4 more than my Nexus 7 – the bezels are too big to game comfortably in landscape on the tablet.
me too, i prefer gaming on a smartphone, except for 2fuse.
Used to game on my Galaxy Nexus, though that would absolutely chew through the battery unless I was plugged in. My Nexus 7 2013 is my current champion, though a lot of the time it needs to be plugged in so the touch screen registers properly. I really wish Google and/or Asus would get to the bottom of the Nexus 7 2013′s touch screen issues.
I’m a very casual gamer but even then the phone doesn’t do it for me, I only game on a ps vita.
Are the games for Vita the same as their counterparts in the PS3? Or are they downsized versions?
For example, NFSMW for PS2 or PS3 is very different than for Android, still very good, but more simple gameplay.
How is this for Vita?
I play on a PC at home. If I’m away, I’ll play some games on my Sony Xperia Tablet Z.
Emulator gaming is where itsays at.. I can play tekken 5, wipeout pure, initial d, etc at 4xmsaa full speed on my Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Is Wipeout Pure similar to Repulze? I’m planning to buy the Z Ultra, for all gaming and media.
Btw, could you share a couple of screenshots of Wipeout? Thanks n.n
Here’s one of Soul Caliber and Wipeout Pulse..forgot to mention it’s the PPSSPP emulator
The big screen and bezels on the side help a ton with on screen controls
Thank you. It looks good.
What emulator is it? PSP?
Do you know Repulze? Can you use weapons on Wipeout, I’m not sure if you can in Repulze. I’m stuckin lower levels :/ But it’s a very light and fast game. Its speed feeling is great!
Yea racing + weapons style game. Yep psp emu
Can you share the link to the emulator you use? I don’t want to go wrong.
Is there NFSMW for the emulator? O.o
Lol there’s only one emu called PPSSPP.. And it’s free… not that I know of
:D More good news then. Thanks!
Love my Nexus 7. Secret Strike…
I like all the different alternatives. I do think that the steam box will be interesting. They would be a PC style, with a console feel. So I think that would be my next get.
High end games are better played on tablet
Mobile gaming is occasional for me
Pc is pc
The fun of playing games on a big screen with ultra settings is something..(amazing)
Only if internal storage options are high on mobile….
for people who are on the move, smartphone is the best bet.
My primary gaming device right now is Android smartphone, because:
1. I bring my phone everywhere, so I play game on it whenever I have free time (on bus, at bank queue, bathroom, bed, before going to sleep, etc).
2. Lot of emulators available. More complete than other platforms (ios, psp, linux, etc).
I still play games on desktop PC though, mostly FPS and RTS games. Nothing can beat superb aiming of mouse+keyboard :D . Good RTS also still rare on mobile platform.
I do gaming on my xperia play
For longer time i go for PC and for simple game when away form home and bored on the road i go for my phone.
Well, what can I say… I do play games on my Android smartphone n.n And I enjoy it very much.
For me, gaming in Android has an excellent present and a very bright future. Currently it is what has made occasional gamers appear, and many of those have become gamers first thanks to the easy accessible cool games in their smartphone, if it hadn’t been for Android, many wouldn’t have tasted their first console-like games which then leaded them to interest in more impressive gaming in PC and consoles.
I think the three of you didn’t give it the importance it deserved. Millions of people have it as their primary gaming console.
Pd: The screenshots, when taken, weren’t done to show off anything. It was to compare Asphalt 8′s improvised graphics “optimization” to Need For Speed Most Wanted’s real optimization.
That’s why there’s no variety.
Pee Cee !