Four leading mobile game developers divulge their thoughts on the rise of mobile gaming, the iOS vs. Android vs. WP7 industry face-off, the impact of HD tablets like the iPad 3, and whether mobile gaming is now challenging the dominance of game consoles.
Toms' Hardware: The iPad 3 release created an immediacy around the adoption of higher-resolution tablet displays. What is the impact of this new hi-res trend on the mobile gaming industry, and will this compel your company to release games in a separate “HD” version accommodate the iPad 3 and emerging high-resolution tablets?
Fishlabs: When platforms emerge, we often see suffixes like HD to differentiate new products from standard offerings targeted to the early adopters. However, mobile technology is evolving so incredibly fast that we believe, in 2013, any game that is not HD won’t be able to succeed even as a mass-market title. Consequently, HD won’t be a marketing message anymore.
Of course, as there will still be many millions of non-HD devices in use, we will release our upcoming titles as a single binary supporting non-HD, HD, and even beyond-HD-capable devices. It is one game for all and the level of fidelity will only depend on the player’s hardware. Just like it is in PC gaming today.
Madfinger: Honestly, we are not that excited about higher-resolution displays. In the case of the new iPad, we would be better off utilizing its more powerful GPU for new and more exiting effects, rather than deal with more pixels on the screen. In our opinion, releases of an app in an HD version are simply a matter of money, a way to boost income—and our company prefers universal applications. Anyway, the trend of speeding up of hardware results in boosting people's expectations of better graphics in general, and that means much work for mobile device apps developers.
Mediocre: I have personally never been that keen on higher resolutions in games. For e-reading and Web browsing, it is obviously a big win. But in an action game where everything is moving, I doubt anyone will even notice. I am much more impressed by a game running at 60 frames per second on a low-res display than a game running at 20 frames per second at “beyond-HD resolution”.
Vector Unit: For 3D games at least, the whole HD thing is complete hokum. The iPhone 4S is a much more capable piece of hardware than the original iPad, but for some reason there is this idea that because the screen is bigger, consumers should pay more for an HD version of a game. I think (and I hope) that the whole thing eventually goes away. When you buy a PC game like Skyrim, you do not pay more for playing on a high-resolution device than you do on a low-res device. It should be the same way with phones and tablets.
Most of our games are targeted at higher-end devices, so we typically just make one set of textures and assets targeted at 720p resolution (the high-res standard on Android), then scale down some textures and such for lower-end devices. Again, the problem with higher resolution is fill rate—but we are okay as long as the GPUs are scaled-up to match.
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