High end console level graphics will only do so much to convince consumers to stick with a mobile game, according to Aaron Loeb, head of North American studios at Kabam.
At this year’s Mobile Games Forum, Loeb stressed that while high fidelity graphics can entice users to download a title, only engaging gameplay will ensure that they are retained.
Despite this, graphical superiority can give mobile games an edge over their competitors. Loeb explains that it can help titles to stand out in a market flooded with copycat games, many of which employ a familiar 2D aesthetic. More advanced visuals can also broaden the range of game genres available on mobile platforms. Traditionally, players of racing, first-person shooters and fighting games demand high-end graphics and as such these types of games have yet to become popular.
Fully realised 3D graphics can also help attract core console gamers to the mobile environment, as well as provide publishers with a better click-to-download (CTD) rate.
Conversely, games that employ better graphics are often more expensive, have larger files sizes and take longer to distribute. In addition, high-end visuals have been found to guarantee developers 17 minutes, on average, before consumers decide whether or not to drop the title, compared to five minutes for games with lower quality 2D graphics.
The hardware powering many mobile devices is advancing at a rapid rate, with the days of pixelated sprite games like Snake long behind us. That being said, Aaron Loeb claims that there is still a place for simpler visuals, particularly amongst puzzle and strategy games.
Given the pros and cons of console-style graphics on mobile devices, many developers will have to weigh up whether the extra financial risk of a high-end title is worth the potential reward.