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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Do We Really Want To Game On Smartphones?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday March 23 2010 at 5:43PM
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I finally joined the wonderful world of smartphones yesterday. I decided to ease into the trend with a Palm Pixi. I know what you’re thinking. No Droid? No iPhone? I love my Verizon service (no iPhone), and the DROID sitting at $199 was not an investment I felt like making right now. So the Palm Pixi it was. It doesn’t have the sheer number of apps available, nor the pure unadulterated technological strength of more expensive gadgets… but for a newbie to the whole scene? I’m definitely digging it. For the price, it’s a perfect starter kit and I’ll simply switch to the DROID next year on my upgrade date if the Pixi ends up not being enough for my tech-nerd ways.

I spent the better part of yesterday evening shopping the app store for the Palm OS, playing around with my long-dormant Twitter account, linking e-mail accounts to my phone, and testing its processing speed by seeing how many different apps it would let me run at once. Needless to say, I forgot to let the dogs out and wound up picking up little nugget-sized droppings around my office chair… as if they knew exactly the reason they weren’t being let outside and how to make sure their message got across.

I played around with a few of the free games available for the Palm, and while I wasn’t disappointed, considering the platform, I began to wonder just how much the trend in mobile gaming is going to affect us MMO gamers. We’ve already seen Blizzard release an app for their armory database, and Fallen Earth is next in line with a pretty handy little tool which will let you manage crafting queue and craft items, deal with the auction house, interact with clan members (via chat I’m assuming), view character profiles, and view the world map.

That right there is pretty much everything I’d want to do MMO-wise with my phone though. I can’t see ever really playing these games on the phone… the interface is just too limited. But then the same thing has been said about console MMOs and developers are finding new ways to break down that barrier all the time. When I think about some of my go-to MMOs (WAR, Champions, PotBS, and LotRO at the moment) I have trouble thinking of anything I’d really need to do in the game from my phone. But when I start to ponder it, watching the status of the capital cities for WAR in semi-real time, or the contention status of different ports in PotBS would become a pretty addictive practice. Being able to play the auction house from my phone would also be extremely enticing.

I’m the kind of player who doesn’t really use the AH that much in most games because I’m usually too busy adventuring and with precious little time I don’t want to spend it filtering through the thousands of items on offer. But if I was given the chance to do my bidding and selling from the office on my phone? Or during a long queue at whatever store I’m at? I’d jump on the opportunity to flex my under-selling prowess.

A twittering friend of mind recently posted that it’s an amazing world we live in when you can upgrade your DSL service with a tweet, and I’d have to agree. Our phones aren’t just for calling anymore. In fact I barely use mine for calling at all. I’m nearly out of battery life today already because I’ve been using it to stalk people on Facebook and look at ridiculous videos on Youtube instead. But will our phones ever be used for more “hardcore” gaming than Plants vs. Zombies? And if so, how will that look? MMOs are very much akin to graphical representations of spreadsheets as it is, but how could the action and actual exploration ever translate? And do we need it to?

All it will take is some clever developer to make us all into believers. But for now, I’ll just look forward to making my virtual fortune from my phone. Or losing it all. Probably the latter. I’m too impatient to be auction house rich.

ghstwolf writes:

I see the future of MMOs as growing to include more "lite access" options.  Things like crafting and "playing the market" don't need a full client to be done, so why limit people's access to them?

Communication will also need to adapt to this client/client free existance.  More and better in-game tools that also can be accessed outside of the game.

I don't think you even try to incorporate the action/exploration onto these devices. 

Tue Mar 23 2010 9:03PM Report
stayontarget writes:

I guess I'm old school, I only use my cell for calls.  I guess I don't like to be connected, distracted 24/7 by every piece of hardware that comes out.

On the bright side: at least I won't get hit by a train because I was distracted by my cellphone / ipod.  :/

Wed Mar 24 2010 4:18AM Report
Limitations writes:

I've rigged my smart phone, to play WoW on it... Not so bad... If i go out of my 3G service, it lags like crazy. I wish i could play my mmorpgs, on my smart phone. That would be pretty epic. Now we just need a phone with the battery that could handle game time. Lol

Wed Mar 24 2010 9:40AM Report
mckimmins writes:

I play Eve Online and I really really want some smart phone or web interaction. I am hoping what ccp has planned for their social networking eventually puts stuff into it that lets us manipulate market orders, manufacturing, chatting, and skill queues. So much gaming could be done without the client in Eve that this would be perfect.

Wed Mar 24 2010 10:06AM Report
Lord.Bachus writes:

Checking you auctions or your guildchat from work on your phone is great...

Playing an MMO on your phone is impossible.

But lite services like chatinterfaces and Auction access and even minigames and cardgames is an option that adds to the community.

Wed Mar 24 2010 2:38PM Report
pojung writes:

'Impossible' loses it's 'im' with time.

Would I personally want it? No. I specifically want to be immersed, and that takes a large screen, advanced sound system and a comfortable setting from which to launch e-adventures.

Wed Mar 24 2010 7:40PM Report
Inktomi writes:

Its for farming. You know what I'm talking about.

Thu Mar 25 2010 2:35AM Report
Ziboo writes:

Love my iPhone and just ordered an iPad.  I do play on the phone randomly (more likely to use Twitter or FB) than not.  I randomly have accessed the WoW armory, and do like the authenticator that you use with iPhones to log in - harder to hack!

Will I play games on the iPad? Of course.  Looking forward to a few for  those times waiting somewhere. But  MMO's not by choice - I don't even like those on the laptop if I can play on the  desktop as I want the really big screen, etc.  

Would I play the AH, or crafting, chatting very very likely.  But questing, instances or pvp, I honestly can't see playing that by choice on a small screen.

Fri Apr 30 2010 3:40AM Report writes:
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