5 Things Mobile Games Desperately Need

5 Things Mobile Games Desperately Need
Screencap of Marvel Strike Force

I play a lot of mobile gaming these days. Marvel Strike Force is my current favorite since Capcom shut down Puzzle Fighter, which was for my money the single best classic game update to mobile ever made. When I’m watching the news every night, fiddling with a game on my phone helps keep my hands from twitching whenever Donald Trump’s voice comes on.

That said, there are some things I wish would become standard in mobile gaming in order to make the genre better. I’m talking these pop culture-heavy puzzle titles, not stuff like Monument Valley or Telltale titles. How can time-wasters improve?

5. A Reset Function.

I tend to start a game, get the feel of how I want to play it and then restart them with that goal in mind. I’m sure I’m not the only one, especially with games that are heavily centered around character ability evolution. You can do it easily in something like Final Fantasy or Borderlands, but in mobile games it often involves setting up whole new IDs for social media. I even had Capcom try and do it for me on Puzzle Fighter with mixed results, though I have nothing but nice things to otherwise say about their customer service. Early gameplay often has a lot of easy development bonuses, and it would be nice to work with that using hard-won knowledge from a previous gameplay. Instead, most games make you trick your phone if you want a restart.

4. Refresh Time Options

Mobile games work on some very basic money-making principles. One of those is forced downtime, which you can skip by paying currency. The free reloading of your currency is usually timed to specific points of the clock. In Marvel Strike Force for instance, it’s noon, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. when I play.

Gamers have all kinds of different schedules, and it sucks if the resets or options for free currency fall on times when you may be asleep or away from your phone. TonyBingGaming, whose tutorial videos I very much enjoy, says he sets his alarm to wake up real quick and take advantage of these times. Games should give you the option to set the most convenient hours so you can maximize your daily play, with a fail safe built in to keep you from cheating the clock such as a maximum number of times you can change the times.

3. Setting a Monthly or Weekly Spending Limit

There is big question in gaming right now whether loot boxes (chests with prizes paid for by currency) count as gambling. Belgium thinks so, and if the industry is not really careful about setting up its own regulations the United States government may soon follow suit.

I don’t mind micro transactions. Really, I don’t. I consider a few bucks here and there to be worth the experience I get from most games. However, it can get out of hand if you’re not careful, especially if you’re like me and your iTunes purchases don’t show up on your bank statement for a few days. The ability to set a limit, or at the very least a reminder of your budget, in games would be very nice. There was a period where I was spending way too much on time crystals in Doctor Who Legacy, and my wife was doing the same for outfits in Covet. The game industry needs to make at least some effort to appear that they are avoiding predatory practices in micro transactions. Limiting how much you can spend on a game per month is one of those things.

2. No Duplicate Characters

Something I hate, Hate HATED about Doctor Who Legacy was the endless gimmick of special versions of characters. I was able to build an entire team of River Songs once thanks to fan versions and plus versions and signature versions and on and one. Galaxy of Heroes does the same, though at least the different versions of Luke Skywalker do have different abilities. Each of these needs leveling up, and that means more grinding or more money.

I get that programing new characters is labor intensive, but constantly repacking old data as new is such a lazy cash grab. Most of us don’t want a million different versions of one character. That needs to be kept to a minimum.

1. Paid Copy Bonuses

Virtually all mobile games are free because they bombard you with rotating offers of deals to advance more quickly. WWE Champions does it so much I felt the game was virtually unplayable, honestly. This is why there are so many of these games. They are the penny stocks of the industry, and they make a lot of dough. There’s a reason we haven’t had another big video game based on Doctor Who since The Eternity Clock and everything since then has been mobile. It’s cheaper and more profitable.

I get that, and I’m not against it. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if we could somehow just pay for the games and play them as if they were normal? I would happily drop an initial $20 on something like Marvel Strike Force if, after trying a demo, it meant I could get an experience closer to traditional gaming or maybe an accelerated currency replenish. I would even be down for a monthly subscription service similar to an MMORPG as long as it was in the $5 or less range.

The constant crawl of offers and ads begging you to spend up to $60 in some of the ones I’ve seen is playing heavily on poor impulse control for cash, and it’s making a lot of games that are otherwise fun feel like scams. Can’t I just pay for an experience instead of being shaken down like it’s a carnival midway? A premium version that substitutes offers for a better consistent experience would be awesome.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner