This is the latest in our Weekend Poll series. For last week's, see What Ice Cream Sandwich Feature/Improvement Are You Most Excited About?

A few days ago, a post by Industry Gamers titled "GTA Developer Blasts Mobile Gaming for Being Focused on Money Over Quality" sparked quite a debate between Artem and me. We are both fairly old-school gamers, with a history of playing games via consoles and PCs since childhood. Despite both of us being long-time gamers, we had utterly different opinions on the current Android gaming situation.

See, Artem was of the opinion that gaming on Android is pretty bad. In his eyes, the GTA dev was right: the focus is on making money, not making a quality product. While I agree that there's a lot of crap out there, I think there are plenty of great games on Android - it simply depends on what you're looking for. I don't expect (or want), say, a Battlefield 3-level experience on my phone or tablet. What I do expect is to have fun, quality games that I can play when I have time to kill and nothing better to do - maybe a quick game of Shadowgun or a few rounds of Fruit Ninja.

So, what's your take? Is gaming on Android terrible, great, or somewhere in between? You know the drill: cast your vote in the poll, then head down to the comments to discuss and share some of your favorite games!

Is Gaming On Android Lackluster?

View Results

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Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Chris

    Something to pass the time on the toilet.

    • Tarek El-Eter

      thats where everyone plays games on their phones

    • Claudio

      WOW you guys do that too??

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      Isn't that called porn?

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii


      • Nocturnhabeo

        just because the only alone time you get is on the toilet doesn't mean the rest of us need to use your 4.3 inch screen for pron. projectors ftw... and forever alone

    • BobbyPhoenix

      +1 Gaming is such a tiny part of the phone for me. It's just something to do when there is absolutely nothing else to do. Like you said. To pass time on the toilet. LOL

    • James M

      don't game much on my phone, the occasional cut the rope, fruit ninja or angry birds is all I do. but I've found my tablet to work very well for playing a few games while lounging around the house or on the porcelain throne as some have said. lol

    • Jon Garrett

      I play when Im on the subway.

      nobody's gonna sit on their couch for hours on end playing a game or games on a tablet or phone. the hardware and software is not there yet and probably wont be for another decade or so.

      I think games on a phone or tablet is overrated anyway.

      • mike

        I suspect you'd get a similar result without constraining it to Android, IOW, gaming on IOS is fairly pathetic too.

  • Aatif Sumar

    After playing Shadow Gun and Contract Killer, I'm in love with Android gaming!

  • ereptor

    While I don't think gaming on Android is "utterly pathetic", I chose that answer because it's the closest to what I think. There is no problem about it of its own in my opinion, but when you compare it to the iOS titles, you do get it when people say that "android is beta and crappy,omfgkopterzorz". I know that it's way harder to create amazing titles for varying screen resolutions, CPUs and GPUs, but still, the quality is far behind to even the same apps on iOS. Check out for instance Dead Space on iPhone, it blows you away. I hope that Shadowgun is the beginning of a new era though, cause it looks great!

    • http://feathertail.dreamwidth.org Tachyon Feathertail

      Agreed ... I mostly chose that option because there aren't really any titles out right now that grab me, per se. Maybe if I had a more powerful phone I would play Minecraft.

    • mintvilla

      Dead Space is on android too?

      While i know what your saying, even when great games are out, sometime there not available for your phone, so i think the answere to this depends on what phone you have, and if your willing to go to gamelofts website.

  • DE

    Disclaimer: been pro-Android till recently. I have a Desire.

    Yes. At least compared with iOS. Both in quality and in quantituy. I've always been an Android supporter, but I feel that iOS is a superior product. The classic Apple's attention to detail is really important for a mobile product.

    In this segment the "just works" motto is not only desirable but essential. And Android is neither as stable, polished and fast as iOS. I was hoping that ICS could deliver and reverse the trend, but I don't see it happening. Still looks like a half-finished product.

    But the worse thing are the apps. Android apps are of much worse quality. Also games.

    • Someone

      Regarding i products: (most of these are personal recounts on i4s)
      Is that why a couple of my friends occasionally have to reboot their phones because their store downloads stop working? Or their alarms broke... Twice? Or Netflix died for their TV version? I just witnessed a popular game black-screen on my cousin just yesterday. A month or so ago, a friend's i4 just blackscreened during our call (until he learned to manually restart his phone, which he didn't know how)

      Doesn't sound like "just works" to me.

      Also, considering a good number of the applications available are literally copy-pasted (Shadowgun? Diversion? Facebook?) from other platforms (plus / minus a few tweaks specific to Android), it's hard to say all applications are of much worse quality.
      Sure, you could go download a random POS software, but ... why would you?

      Not saying Android's the solution for everyone's wants (yet), but you really sound biased for no reason.

      Either way, if you found another platform that is more to your liking, then by all means, enjoy. We'll miss you here. =P

    • roops

      enjoy life in the walled garden of jobs!

  • jjrudey

    I don't really play mobile games because I'm so careful about my battery life. But if I ever do it's only Minecraft Pocket Edition.

  • Jeff Tarman

    Some of the games coming out look better on a tablet. When you place some of these 1st shooters on a 3.7" - 4" screen and your thumbs are all over the screen, doesn't really make for an enjoyable playing experience. Hopefully MC3 will change my mind

  • Ron Amadeo

    Gaming on all smartphones is pathetic. Too much casual crap. Most games get boring after a few levels or a few minutes.

    You play them when you are waiting for something, but you never play them when you have anything else to do - unlike a real console, PC, or even DS/PSP game. That says a lot about the quality and entertainment value.

    They are all $1-$5 for a reason.

  • Samar

    I agree with you Aaron. It depends on one's perspective of gaming on a mobile platform.
    Even if BF3 & GOW like games were on them, I surely wudn't expect the kinda satisfaction I wud get on a Console and a bigger screen. Having said that, it wud surely be fun though playing 'em on a tablet... :-)
    Quality products like TEGRA series from nVidia are putting their faith in smaller form factors and You can experience it for sure. We should all give 'em a chance. An iPad doesn't have that quality gaming power on it when compared to Android, atleast not Yet.

  • mikeymop

    It's upsetting that PewPew looks so much better on the iPhone as thats the biggest game I play.
    The iPhone just has so much more specular highlights and effects added to the look of the game that the android versions just dont have.

    • Someone

      So why don't you email the dev and say, yo, what's up with this difference?

      It's not like Android can't do specular highlights and effects. It's that the app doesn't.

    • roops

      it's soooo upsetting!
      If the wii has taught anything it's that gameplay, story and good old fashioned FUN are much more important that graphics.

    • Jyaif

      PewPew dev here!

      I am working on it, but truth be told, the GPU and OpenGL drivers simply suck on most Android devices:

      None of my Android devices (Nexus One/Xperia PLAY) can run PewPew with all the effects as well as an iPhone 3GS, that's why the effects are disabled.

      I'll enable the effect in the futur.

  • Deltaechoe

    I will never expect to play sprawling rpgs or seriously realistic first person shooters on a phone. I'm looking for a casual game to kill a couple minutes, and while there is a lot of crap out there, there is enough to keep me happy, especially with the early console emulators.

  • duplissi

    gaming on a phone in general is pretty lackluster......

    it only serves to waste time when you are waiting for something, otherwise its not worth the time and effort iphone or android.

    they make consoles and portables for that, not phones.

  • http://www.bengigi.com Oren Bengigi

    As an Android Game developer, I think that we developers are forced to focus on monetization of the game instead of improving its quality. The reason for this is that is hard making money from Android games by selling them. Think how many copies I must sell to make enough money if the game's price is $1!

    Another thing that I've just realized today, while looking at the top free games list, is that users don't want quality games. here are a few games that are far from being quality games, but they are currently on the top of the list:
    "Toilet Paper Pull"
    "Cut the Birds"
    "Pimple Popper"

    If users prefer those game over better quality games, I don't see how this situation is going to change.

    I've developed a high quality game, that took me more thank 6 months to develop, and I find it very hard getting to the top of the list, and it is a 4.4 Rated free game with over 100,000 downloads...

    • Rami

      What game is it. As a fellow android dev, i would like to support you as well as play a good game.

    • Dan Maor

      He's most likely talking about Noogra Nuts, very cute game.

      BTW - are you from Israel too Oren? :)

    • Finaldeath

      You can blame the trash apps being on the top of the list on the 12 year olds with cell phones. It was the same on ios before i switched when i got my sony tablet s. (had an ipod touch 2g but got sick of apples shit and the fact they completely gimped my ipod with update 4.0, killed battery life and wifi) I would look for the highest rated free games on there and it was all that crap. It was impossible to find the good quality games worth paying for.

      I am with the first post made by chris, i mostly only play mobile games on the crapper. I also agree with others that games with on screen sticks are complete trash and dont belong on touch devices, they just dont work. The only game i played with remotely usable on screen joysticks is pocket legends which is pretty fun.

      I think they need to make certain app types unable to get on the top of the free/paid list or even give them their own separate category. Such as the ones you mentioned that are nothing more than stupid pointless apps like pimple popper. Once the android market gets better orginization and sorting as well as being able to pay in local currency on all apps, android gaming will get much better and i am sure much more quality games will be released since more people will find and pay for them.

      There are a bunch of games i would love to buy on the android market such as apparatus that i simple can't because i can't buy it with usd. I don't want to buy it then get charged a fee of more than the cost of the app because i paid in a foreign currency. I have gotten around this with a couple apps by buying them on the amazon app store but not all apps are on there.

      • http://www.bengigi.com Oren Bengigi

        Yes, my Game is Noogra Nuts.

        I agree that on screen joystick doesn't work well for phones, maybe it is more comfortable on the tablets.

        The problem with categories, is that the developer decides on what category to put his game, he can even put in in Photography apps, and no one will prevent him from doing so.

        Google don't really care about the quality of the games in the Android Market, and are counting on the users to know how to find the best games.
        I really hope Google will invest more in making the Android Market more developer friendly, because without good apps & games, people will abandon Android for the alternatives.

  • Andy

    i think one of the problems is that a lot of the games seem to require the tegra chips and not everyone has those yet due to lengthy contracts but ive been playing Parallel Kingdom on my android for over a year now and thats daily logging in too and usually for more than 3 hours at a time (oops PK addict lol).

    like some said above, it depends what you want out of a game but im happy enough with mine and think the developers do a great job in general

  • Rob

    It's pretty bad, especially when compared to iOS, but having an Xperia Play helps if the games are optimized for it!

  • teovald

    The principal problem with mobile gaming is that many game tries to emulate a console by bringing a virtual joystick on the screen. And that is a pathetic way to create a mobile game (it is not at all Android specific btw). Some games do a really good job at making a mobile adapted game, like battlehearts or battlegroup but many dev don't bother or are not talented enough to make a real mobile game.
    I have not tried shadowgun, and i wont, because i dont see the point. If i want to play to a tps, i will play to red faction on my computer, i dont want to play that kind of game on my tablet with awkward controls.

  • Yobee

    Started gaming in the mid 70's and have watched the whole thing evolve through numerous platforms. Android gaming is way ahead of the curve considering its age and the sophistication of the hardware so far. All the relevant factors are increasing exponentially, so my guess is that, within the limitations of the platform, Android gaming will rival any other format for gaming within a few short years.

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      Isn't this always the case? We're just one release away from truly great software or this will be the year of the Linux Desktop or just wait and see?

  • Germian

    There are a few problems with games on Android.

    1. No real game community options

    Yeah, Gamecenter for iOS may not be perfect and it looks partially ridiculous but it has it's functions together with achievements that others can see without too much work. Android needs something like this, more oriented at X-Box Live which is together with Steam the best gaming community. The people app is a good start and the possibility to integrate it in there could be a way, but I'd prefer an own app for it.

    2. The market + payment options

    Right now you can STILL only pay through CC/Google Checkout or - which is very rare - carrier billing. Best example: A good friend of mine who has enough money he would like to spend can't because he doesn't want a CC because he wants to be in control of his money. He has no other option to pay with Paypal, some kind of "Google Points" or whatever.

    The editor's choice and featured stuff is a good start, but iOS does a lot more with including special offers (for games) and separating the "other apps" and "games". It's much better than in the beginning, but if I really want to find out about new/good games, I have to go visit a website (like the Games round-up here on AP).

    3. Quality vs. Quantity

    Here we are again. Games on iOS can be highly optimized to the two or four (if you take the second newest devices like now the iPhone 4 and iPad 1) devices that are there. I don't really think that the 3GS really that important anymore. Well, against that is the expectation that EVERY Android phone should be able to play EVERY game. I don't know good games can be ported from a Tegra version to a normal version that everyone can play with, but beginning that 'fragmentation' with special drivers or whatever they get there, is no help to solve the problem. I have a HTC Desire and most games work somehow, but I notice that some games are just not made for the device but it's 2 years old now and I accept that I can't play all the fancy new games anymore.

    Otherwise, yeah, all the good games come out on iOS first because there is the money. A friend who works in a company for mobile games as CTO said that ads work relatively well, but paid apps aren't working as well as on iOS - here again the market problems, no real featured or "This is new and awesome" section. The editor's choice section doesn't seem to be updated very often, so another missed chance.

    So, to sum this up, I think the problems with games on Android is not only one thing, it's a combination of things.

  • TeeGee

    I like Android games quite a lot...granted ,it ain't Dragon Quest IX kind of depth but most games that I got were really fun. Samurai 2 Vengenace is one example of a gorgeous game...but should be longer and have more stuff.
    Illusia is also one of my favs ...then there are many others aswell.

    What I completely hate is the GAMELOFT approach (or whatever) where they give u something "free" and they screw u over with micro transactions. People mostly say that one should stfu because the game is free...which is stupid since "free" stuff makes us users the "product"...if this makes sense ;) besides,if someone gives me free candy and it tastes like I wanna puke,I would say that I expected better ...okay moving on: there is potential for great and cheap games. There are tons of great free games on Android...but,something is missing. Greed ,I suppose,is stronger than happy customers.
    So in conclusion,there must be more depth in Android games ,but those that I have (30 or so on my SGS) are good enough to keep me playing.
    Asphalt 6,Let's Golf 2,Baseball Superstars II,Angry Birds Seasons,Stickman Golf,Illusia,Destinia,Zenonia 2,Rainbow Six,PES 2011,Cut the Rope,Worms...to name a few,are all very good IMO.I like to play them often ;)

    So I have chosen answer no. 2 : happy but could be better

    • L boogie

      Agreed...... Mobile gaming is still up and coming on the android platform and while games such as Shadowgun, Air attack HD, meteor blitz, guerrilla Bob, Jewellust etc are awesome and some of the ones i frequently play, fragmentation had its part to play from reaching the gaming nirvana android could be. However, ICS and future updates could help mobile gaming on android reach a whole new plateau if the OS could accomplish its main objective.

  • Roger

    Games don't need to blow me away on a tablet, at least not for a few more years when hardware would be crazy enough to rival a console then I could just plug into HDMI on the TV and use a bluetooth controller. That would catch my interest then. I use mine more for internet duties, watching Netflix/Crackle, listening to music/internet radio. Along with some light gaming. On a sidenote, I'd like to see them make Dragon's Lair run on the tablet. There's timed movements to make so the onscreen 'gamepad' wouldn't be too cumbersome to use.

  • Lee

    There are too many companies dumping crap on the market. I think the biggest difference is that Google doesn't certify games like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony do.

    If Google had an optional certification process paid for by the developer, gamers can look for this certification before purchasing a game. Typically this means a list of requirements (consistent UI, save game, etc), and then testers for finding issues that the developer must fix before being certified.

    It's kind of funny that they have something like this for hardware that wants to run GApps.

  • James Jun

    There needs to be more mobile games, games that are really made for the phone and on the go, not Shadowgun and those graphically-intensive games. I'll play those kinds of games at home on the consoles, but phone games should remain phone games.

  • http://fc1032.blogspot.com Brian

    I'm not a picky gamer, but I would like a bit more variety.

    At the moment, I only have angry birds, robotek, tank hero and fruit ninja (like I actually play them regularly)

    Otherwise it will be an emulator. Emulators on the original galaxy tan feel like the original gameboy ^^

  • Nathan

    one word, ONLIVE!

  • al

    I said its pathetic. Apart from the emulators and such I dont really game on mine much.

    The games available are usually games that have been on iOS for a while. Theres only a handful of games that are exclusive and they are often exclusive to certain handsets and often not very good.

  • GraveUypo

    if it wasn't for the emulators, there'd be like 10 games worth playing (angry birds, fruit ninja and cut the rope are not one of them btw. i hate those).

    Thing is: there ARE emulators , so i'm kinda happy for now. they help me get through sleepless nights at the farm, or boring nothing-to-do situations. My gamepad "docks" also help a lot with that, because touch controls suck.

    there are also a few addictive and fun native games like robotek, robot unicorn attack, great little war game, reckless racing, majesty and plenty decent of puzzle games (my favorites are emulated though) to pass time.

    BUT i feel there could be so much more, so i voted for "Yes - gaming on Android is pathetic". i expect my cellphone to replace my game consoles in the next 5~8 years.

  • roops

    Gaming in general is pretty poor at the moment, with a sucessful formulae spawning numerous sequels (ironically like TV and Movices) with a lack of innovation. I got bored of FPS ages ago and prefer omething more immersive. Phone gaming is something to pass the time whilst on the throne, or travelling to work or to kill five minutes here and there. Gaming when done right can be awesome, but who seriously wants (or has the time) to play an epic like mass effect on a phone with all the limitations it entails? This does seem like a silly generalising post

  • Franco

    I find gaming on android pointless to be honest.Unless the game is basic push and pull type then there is no real fun in it.
    The size of the screen makes all the difference when you have the screen play and the visual screen all in the same place it restricts proper game play.But if proper game play was needed then use a console/pc.

    Battery drain is a flaw also i feel,since even playing basic run of the mill games like angry birds kills the battery within no time at all.Phone aint ment for real gaming so i dont see the point in putting too much effort into it.I personally think over all i would prefer a more slick faster top of the range app friendly phone then a medium average phone that squeezes games in and waste capability's on overall use.

  • http://www.playtogetherstaytogether.co.uk Steven Thomsen-Jones

    I've sunk hours into playing games on my Android phone (HTC Desire) mainly on the *Story games, particually Game Dev and Grand Prix. And I mean hours. There are good games out there, you just have to find them.

    I agree though that games on the phone need to be shorter experiences in general, tha should be their USP. The are to fill in gaps whilst waiting around for trains etc. Games like Mega Jump are perfect for this.

    However with the tablets more involved games can be used, as you tend to be at home sat on the sofa playing whilst watching TV. So you need games with more depth but which don't require constant attention. City building style games are good here. And of course you can have more involved games for when you are purely gaming and can dedicate your full attention.

    I've actually started gaming more on my Xoom recently as devs seem to be building games that scale nicely to the larger screen. As yes, there are microtransactions around, but you can ignore them, I play Lets Golf 3 without ever hitting the buy button. I would prefer if I could pay £5 and get a full game that doesn't nag me, or just offers DLC for extra cash and not paying to speed up gameplay.

    You can certainly argue that the iOS platform has more quality games, but things are becoming more level and if you have a Tegra powered device more impressive too.

  • http://www.playtogetherstaytogether.co.uk Steven Thomsen-Jones

    Oh, as for community. I favour games that use OpenFeint. As it runs on Android and iOS it gets my vote. I like cross platform systems over propriety

  • azumihk

    Deadspace,backstab,pinball hd,gt racing,fishing kings. yes love to play them all

  • Andy

    oh i feel so involved with this site. twice now ive posted a comment and had it removed, yes it was on topic and no nothing offensive :( and yes i refresh to make sure its gone up

    way to go android poli....trolls

    wonder how many other peeps dont bother posting or taking part because of that?

    this is my last, thanks for reading

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      We don't remove or censor comments without reason. I don't know what exactly you're talking about, but I do see 10 comments in your posting history on this site (including 1 above in this thread) with your email. Really - there's no conspiracy theory, it's probably some caching issue.

      • Andy

        oops *hangs head in shame* you are right Artem. I must have missed my comment when i came back to look for any follow up replies, even though i went through them looking a few times. I promise to look more closely in future :(

        I guess me coming back proves how much i like Android Police and would have missed it, the way articles are presented and the amount of information you guys bring together. I said some bad things there and i shouldn't have

        apologies to all at Android Police, keep up the good work

  • Bobzilla

    The most pathetic thing about Android gaming that I've noticed is most people don't know they can hook up their phone or tablet to a larger display simply with an HDMI cable! (Depends on the model, of course.) Also no one seems to know you can hook up controllers via USB or Bluetooth! When I demonstrate this to people they think I'm a god or something! ( No Kidding! ) Google and the OEMs should advertise this feature more.

    I also believe Nvidia's Tegra 3 and other upcoming SOC's are going to be real game changers in more ways than one. They will have excellent capabilities and will for the first time bring comparable graphics as alot of modern game consoles. Check the demos on YouTube.

    Oh, let's not forget Open Accessory and Google@Home. Who knows what people are going to do with those! It seems to me it is lackluster for now but the future is bright and it's just around the corner!

  • ABT Benjamins

    23% of voters don't know how to run emulators.

  • Scott
  • DannyJayFuller

    Shadowgun, GTA, Galaxy on Fire, Dungeon Defenders, a variety of MMOs, Samurai 2, emulators, Onlive, Monster Rancher(courtesy of Mobage), Game Dev Story, Sims 3. Just to name a few. I don't care what you're looking for, at this point in its life, Android gaming pretty much has you covered. Want to play some PSO, but no dreamcast around? Try Order and Chaos, a 3D RPG like Earth and Legend, or maybe an emulator. Want a Final Fantasy fix? Emulation and some knockoff RPGs have you covered. Sonic? Got it. Monster Hunter? On its way. Want a deep RPG like Persona? Again, emulation has you covered. There are also literally tons of great RPGs for Android. I know I've been falling back on emulators a lot, but I have to say, my Sidekick 4G has pretty much put my PSP out of business. I love the Android gaming scene and only want to see it get better with age.