What Makes A Great Mobile Game?
To some extent or another, we all personally know the power of a great mobile game. Whether you’re hooked yourself or you know somebody who is, there’s no denying that mobile games are entertaining for everyone. But the billion-dollar question, quite literally, is: what really makes a great mobile game?
The mobile gaming space is synonymous with many blockbusting success stories that it’s become intriguing to try and figure out the secret behind what it takes to make a great mobile game. Being a multi-billion dollar industry, the mobile market is swarming with games, which makes it difficult to part the bad from the good and the good from the great.
In this post, we’ll break down the fundamental elements behind what makes a great mobile game. Let’s jump right in!
An Experience Rooted In Emotion
Also known as “gameplay”, the experience behind enjoying a mobile game truly comes down to feeling a certain way while playing. Great mobile games touch on emotions to create a memorable and addicting experience for the player. Think of the simple emotions or feelings behind a mobile game you love playing and try to identify the specific elements that bring those feelings about.
Whether that involves a repetitive aspect, a soothing sound, a relatable character, or a social factor, the emotion-inducing elements of a great mobile game make players feel fulfilled while playing.
While this one seems like a no-brainer in today’s world, you’d be surprised at just how many mobile game developers put their graphics last. Even though a low definition, retro aesthetic could work for some mobile games, it can be off-putting when the graphics are just plain bad.
This is especially true for social mobile games with characters that are meant to look and act lifelike. The quality of a mobile game’s graphics can truly elevate the experience or simply ruin it all together, so this element is key to a mobile game’s success.
For the most part, mobile game players enjoy simple games. Whether the mobile game mimics a real-life card game they already know or brings forward a totally new concept, players tend to gravitate towards and appreciate simplicity.
Mobile games are made for on-the-go, time-passing playing, so it makes sense that simple games perform well. However, simplicity in game design means that the game is simple to learn and get into, but it certainly does not mean that the game is easy. Simplicity means that the baseline requirements on the player’s part are simple and straightforward, and as the levels get higher the simplicity is still there but the game becomes harder to master.
Rewards are a hugely motivating factor when it comes to practically anything, and mobile games are no different. The feeling you get when you earn a reward is incentivizing, both in the long run and in the short term. When designing a great mobile game, the reward system must be rooted in psychology in order to give players what they want.
While rewards come in different forms, they motivate players not only to keep playing but to play better. Some examples of incentivizing rewards in mobile games are rank, currency, newness (unlocking new players or levels), power boosts, and more. A great mobile game tows the line between making the player feel rewarded but also like they’ve worked hard to earn that reward.
Depth in mobile games can sound contradictory to simplicity, however, they go hand in hand in creating compelling gameplay. A great mobile game must have some sort of depth to it; a certain element that gives the player more than what meets the eye. This can be in the form of a narrative that is slowly uncovered in parallel with levels, or it can also be more technical in the sense of having in-game social functionalities between players.
The feeling of relating to a game – whether it’s to the actions required in the game or to a specific character – is extremely appealing. The relatable factor behind a mobile game can create a feeling of familiarity between the player and the game, which makes for longevity. It creates a bond between game and player that builds foundational loyalty.
However, making sure mobile game players feel like they relate can sometimes be a matter of localizing your mobile game. At Tamatem, we take great mobile games and build on their greatness by localizing them to cater to MENA players. Localization is an effective way to ensure that different audiences relate to a mobile game.
Ultimately, creating a great mobile game comes down to balance – it’s a matter of finding that bliss point where elements of the game are in sync in creating an enjoyable experience. Too much of anything, like too much simplicity, will make the game unexciting and challenge-lacking. Too little of anything, like very few rewards, will make the game feel too challenging and impossible to master.
A great mobile game requires intricate attention to these elements in order to create a long-lasting, captivating experience for the player. Long story short, making a great mobile game is truly a fun game of its own.