12
May
machinarium

Way back in October, Artem and I got into a debate about the quality of Android's gaming scene. I was of the opinion that there were good gaming titles - not an abundance, but enough quality titles to keep me happy. Artem, on the other hand, was of the opinion that there were virtually no good games on Android. So we put it to you, our readers. The result: gaming on Android was good, not great.

Fast-forward a little over six months, and there are a lot more high-quality, bigger-budget titles available on Android. So we'll ask it again: what are your thoughts on the state of Android gaming?

Is Gaming On Android Lackluster?

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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.

  • Prasen Gs

    My economics teacher was right, human wants are unlimited !

  • http://twitter.com/whoisajimmy Jim

    The lack of online multiplayer in these beautiful 3D games that have only been possible with the latest batch of processors should tell you something.

    • Sumatori-kun

       Yup, that the Android market is fragmented.

  • Nicolas

    my "problem" is not really with the quality of games, but with the battery of the phone. It's already hard enough to go thru an entire day on a single charge with the calling, texting, browsing, email and so on, so playing games on my phone is just not something I think about when I'm away from a plug. And when I'm close to a plug, I often have other gaming systems (like at home, I can play on my pc or my xbox).

    • DROID DOES

      Yeah, when it gets to the pint that batteries allow unrestrained use in all manners of entertainment (media, gaming, browsing/social media), then gaming would be more "accepted"; right now the only way to truly enjoy a high-quality android game is to be tethered and play it whilst charging.. which is not only cumbersome, but inconvenient, and at that point, one might as well play on a more powerful device dedicated to gaming.

    • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

      This is the reason why I never got into mobile gaming of ANY kind before. Gameboy (and all of its newer versions), Game Gear, PSP, Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS, etc... never bought a single one because:
      1) I can't see myself gaming all that often when I'm away from a TV/Computer
      2) I always EXPECTED that the battery would die on me in the rare case that I actually wanted to use it. It would be my luck that I'm at a pivotal point of the game and the thing dies before I can finish it or save.

      I had a Game Gear for a while when I was a kid (no idea where it came from) and I never used it for these reasons

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        That's like saying some guy won't smoke a cigarette because he's afraid sometime in the immediate future he'll suddenly have a nic-fit.  Ignore Andorid, you're talking about refusing to use a single-purpose device for it's intended purpose because you'd be afraid of *maybe* temporarily using it up?  The logic you're espousing is that you'd rather completely deny yourself something than to risk briefly being without it on relatively rare occasions.  I'm sorry to be rude, but that's one of the most crack-potted things I've read on the internet in at least a couple of hours.

        I won't question or debate the first point, I'm actually with you on that one...the second is just completely illogical as a reason, it's like an excuse gone wrong.

        • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

          I'm just saying that I never got into mobile gaming, although it IS mostly because of the first reason. But also because from my experience, most of those things didn't have good battery life either. 

          The Game Gear that I DID have had only a couple hours of life usually before it died. Most of the Gameboys (with the exception of the original) seemed to have the same issue.

          Battery technology is the one thing that is lagging behind all the rest of our technology, and it has been that way for YEARS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Emerson/592299397 Ryan Emerson

    Being able to hook up my phone over WiFi and play emulators with a PS3 controller pretty much seals the deal for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=825640724 Adam Sablich

    There's nothing like having a 2-month old Tegra2 tablet that can't play the brand new Tegra-3-only games. 
    I mean seriously - either stop releasing a new tablet every month, or don't develop exclusively for the newest stuff and work on putting out quality content for the devices that are already sold. 

    • LewisSD

      "either stop releasing a new tablet every month"Please do tell me where I can purchase a tablet made by Nvidia lol.
      Also, what do you recommend manufactures do only release one tablet a year rather than giving us several options??? I mean, thats the beauty of android we can choose to buy from several different manufactures and from a broad price range. 

      Just because you have buyers remorse that your tablet is now out of date doesn't mean companies should stop developing new tech. 

      • CoreDuo08

        I don't think its an issue of buyer's remorse at all. It's an issue of NVIDIA not offering Tegra 2 backwards compatibility for Tegra-specific games which have inflated prices to begin with while virtually every other game on Google Play only requires OpenGL ES 2.0 to run.

        • LewisSD

          You make a really good point there, but I just don't see the reasoning in thinking that less options for new tablets is going to fix this. Nvidia seems to have this game plan that requires you to upgrade every few years to the latest hardware. but honestly, after a year or two you should expect to have obsolete hardware that's just the nature of technology.

        • LewisSD

          You make a really good point there, but I just don't see the reasoning in thinking that less options for new tablets is going to fix this. Nvidia seems to have this game plan that requires you to upgrade every few years to the latest hardware. but honestly, after a year or two you should expect to have obsolete hardware that's just the nature of technology.

          • CoreDuo08

            Obsolescence is a necessary evil in the realm of consumer electronics, yes. But I would much rather not be able to play a game because the GPU is too slow or too old than because NVIDIA arbitrarily decided to break backwards compatibility with products that were introduced less than a year apart and no other options for developers.

          • jim2point0

            There definitely is a problem here. If I bought the iPhone 4, I would be able to play 99% of the games on iOS right now (probably some tablet specific ones that I couldnt). However, if I buy a non-tegra phone (which, by the way, can still be faster), I can't play "tegra" games because nvidia won't let me.

            It's an issue of android being fragmented all to hell... to the point where you have games specifically for the playstation phones... or tegra devices... and it just leads to a shitty ecosystem. This is why I bought my wife an android phone and an iPad. That way I can play decent games every now and then.

    • Guest

       Most relevant comment.. that's why Apple always gets higher % of satisfied customers.. Come on Google put some sort of control in place!

      • MacVities

        Sorry, that's bullshit.  There are games that only work on the latest iPad too....

        • Sumatori-kun

           Yeah, only 5 of them. :P

    • El Sid

      There are plenty of great games which are fantastic on Android

      Shadowgun
      Limbo
      Angry Bots 9mb

      these games all have great graphics

  • BlackGod

    The rumored to be unified "Google Games" will change all of that.

  • http://twitter.com/TheGermian Germian

    Still about the same. 

    We still get games that are out on iOS for about 1 or 2 years later or with more or less bigger delays *cough* Max Payne */cough* 

    Although I have to say that Android got more "amateur-ish" games that may not look professional but are really fun like "Swerve and Destroy". And it STILL doesn't help that you can't really get Google Prepaid cards outside the US. I don't wanna know how many kids are getting those cards in electronic markets that don't own a credit card and buy games with them.

    • StriderWhite

      and don't forget Nova 3 by Gameloft! and tons of games that will never come to Android, NEVER (did anyone say Infinty Blade?)!

  • StriderWhite

    playing with touch controls can be such a pain, sometimes...I have an Xperia Play, so things are easier. Unfortunately it seems that Sony doesn't want to push the Xperia Play further...

    • djembeman

      I think Sony made the mistake of making an underpowered 3G Experia Play when 4G phones were already out and Superpowered ones were about to be released.

  • duplissi

    these games are hardly games although there are a few exceptions touch screen games are lacking overall, not just on android.

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    Android, in my opinion, has better apps and is generally the best mobile OS out there; however, iOS just completely clobbers Android in terms of the quality of its game library. Android seems to be an afterthought for a lot of mobile game developers.

  • Graveuypo

    it's not very good but i don't think it's android's fault since pretty much all platforms are suffering right now imho. there are no good games coming out in any platform :|

  • David Rosen

    It has been getting better lately but it's taken FOREVER for us to get some of iOS' best games. Maybe in the next year or so thought the playing field will start to level out (I hope).

  • Gabba

    Meh, gaming on a phone is just like tetris - good for killing time, but you don't play it for the story or the graphics.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      I think it depends on the game and on the capabilities of the device you are playing it on. I think with the increase in technology with all gaming devices we can see real hardcore gaming on a smartphone/tablet soon.

      I hope that if I can learn Android programming and game development I could make some games which could really push the Android to its limits! XD

      Such as a full-fledged RTS game for starters!

      • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

        I think you're missing the point of his comment... yes, Android and Android powered devices have the capability of good graphics and whatnot. But most people who are playing a game on a phone are doing so simply to kill time, not to play a really deep and involved game.

        With tablets, that may change slightly. But I agree that most people I know (myself included) play games on phones to kill time, not for an amazing gaming experience.

  • DCMAKER

    a year ago there were no games...now there are a lot more...still needs improvement but a ton better

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ray-Sunghwa-Woo/542631978 Ray Sunghwa Woo

    I think that the game developers sometimes are feeling overwhelmed to accommodate all the different systems in Android. If Google and the Cellphone manufacturers can decide on fewer and quality cellphone line ups, the trans-platforming to Android can be easier and may attribute to easier gaming development opportunity. I have a Droid X and even if there are good quality, best graphic games out there in Google Play, but so far I'm happy with playing games like Temple Run and Quell on my phone, and Riptide THD on my TP. 

  • r3drox

    Still waiting for Sribblenauts. *back to twiddling thumbs in corner*

  • Elkniwcire

    The game selection is alright, but compared to ios it is disappointing. We get some of the best titles but it usually has compatibility issues or other bugs that really distract from the experience. Even simple games like Tiny Tower perform way better on ios.

  • Palmer Nyako

    need more games from capcom, etc. known game companies.

    • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

      Usually the games from those big companies are the ones I try to avoid most. Especially with EA, Gameloft and those I made very bad experiences. 

      On the other side I love those great indie games made by small teams or just a single person. Gunman Clive is a good example - I absolutely love this one.

      • Palmer Nyako

        Gunman clive is a great game.
        I agree i do love the games from indie developers but it would still be nice to see some monster hunter, streetfighter(not yet released)phoenix wright, devil may cry etc on Android
        ;P

  • garychencool

    What I probably hate the most is that a game (such as Order and Chaos Online) can't run on my Mini Pro sk17a but it can run on phones with lower specs, WTF GameLoft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ray-Sunghwa-Woo/542631978 Ray Sunghwa Woo

      Sony should stop making phones on Android lol

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Like some other commenters (and based on votes, I suspect this is the common opinion), I think iOS is dominating in terms of mobile gaming right now.  The following for it is quite huge and there's been a lot of money for the developers, and that's the prime incentive.  Android is a follower in this area, usually (not always) getting ports of games much later and sometimes not at all.  All it takes to see this is to look at various game announcements where some people (including one of the AP writers) have been excited about a specific feature or bonus that would only exist on the Tegra-3 version of a game or on a specific device, but being realistic these are obviously small victories that pale to the success iOS has achieved.  However :)  Anybody can see that the gap between Android and iOS is much smaller than it was 6 months ago, real game producers have put a visible investment in delivering games and there going to be a LOT more coming.

    I'll admit, I voted for the midpoint option.  I do most of my gaming on my iPhone, in part because I don't want to burn through the battery on my real phone and in part because the game selection is better.  I still do a good bit of gaming on my android phone and tablet.  I think most people voted the same way because they are (admit it or not) comparing Android with iOS, not just basing their opinion purely on Android as a gaming platform.  I do have a theory, if people were comparing Android against Windows Phone, I bet there would be a much higher ratio of people voting positively for Android ;)

  • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

    There are way more good games then I could play in my freetime. Actually my tablet is full with games and there are at least 10 games at the moment on my tablet I really like but still didn't played much because of the lack of time.

  • Hunny Bear

    If you think gaming on Android sucks then you need to try several titles: Samurai II: Vengeance (timeless), Dead Space, Tanked (cross platform multiplayer!), Gloomy Dungeons (Wolfenstein type shooter), Legendary Heroes (similar to DotA)...

    ...and if those don't entirely blow you away let me pull out the big guns: CS Portable (first person multiplayer shooter..inspired by Counter Strike) and C.H.A.O.S., an insanely high quality helicopter battle game with single and multiplayer. It was worth the money.

  • wewewi

    99% of the good Android games are ports of iOS games sometimes released a whole year before. 

    Cant blame the editors; they oughta make their money somewhere.

    Android = Sideloading
    It has its uppers and downers.

    • MacVities

      99% of the games you know about.
      Perhaps you shouldn't be trying to find out about Android games from iPhone owners....    

      How many iPhone owners are oblivious to the exclusive Android titles?  Most of them...   Apple have created a myth that gaming on Apple is better, the media are too lazy to bother to research this, and consumers are too stupid to look for Android-only games.

      • Sumatori-kun

         Exclusive Android titles like... what?

    • carbonated_turtle

      That's simply not true at all. I don't even know where you got this information.

      • wewewi

         Simply not true at all (nice argumentation, btw) yet your 2 comments right up mine means exactly the same thing.

        " I guess most of the people who voted don't buy, or haven't figured out how to pirate the good games."
        "There are plenty of great games and apps, and people will always pirate
        them, like it or not. I'm sorry if you don't like reality, but that's
        it."

        • carbonated_turtle

          Okay, let me try again. I have played, am still playing, and know people who play lots of great games on Android. Many of these were not ported from the iPhone. I didn't think I'd have to spell it out, but there ya go. I have no idea what you're getting at with my two comments which were posted to someone else and had nothing to do with yours.

  • carbonated_turtle

     I guess most of the people who voted don't buy, or haven't figured out how to pirate the good games.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

      This is why we don't get nice games and apps

      • carbonated_turtle

        There are plenty of great games and apps, and people will always pirate them, like it or not. I'm sorry if you don't like reality, but that's it.

  • WilliamSurname

    Whether or not the games market is any good right now is all a matter of context. If you have a mid-range phone and all you're looking for is a couple time-wasters, you have loads of options. If you have a tablet packing a Tegra 3, you still have loads of options, but very few will really feel like you're really using all the power you have.

    I think there's a couple factors that really feed into that:
    1) It's expensive to develop apps, so developers like to develop towards the lowest common denominator to appeal to as wide a range of customers as possible.
    2) The app markets don't really support reasonable software prices. $2.99 is a reasonable price for a new widget that tells the time, fetches weather, and looks good doing it. It is an unreasonably low price for a full-3d game with several hours of gameplay, a wide range of art assets, voice acting, customized UI design, etc.

    The end result is the markets are glutted with a bunch of titles that may as well be flash games because it costs a ton to develop anything more complex than Yet Another Tower Defense Game and consumers have been trained to think that anything more expensive than $15 is insane. The only way things will get better is if people spend money on high-end games with price tags to match - that's the only way developers will decide it's worth it to create gaming experiences for Android as rich as what you can find on consoles or PCs.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      I'd like to add onto your 2nd factor, many game houses out there, especially the indie joints, have said in the past that the most expensive part of producing most types of games is the art and voice acting.  Assets cost a fortune for most bigger games, which is why certain companies like EA have done so well, they have streamlined their cost and worked out contracts with numerous franchises so that they can get a lot of that stuff cheaper or sometimes free.

      While that cost is high and it's hard for a lot of companies to justify putting out a game for $3 that has a lot of expensive assets, there is an upside to it.  If you can fund the cost of writing a game for iOS along with those expensive assets, then the relative cost of porting to Android (and every other OS) becomes substantially cheaper.  With increasingly capable cross-platform systems like Unity and ironically because of the higher cost of assets, it's foolish for companies to not put out games on Android.  A relatively small amount of work and merely converting assets over to compatible formats (if they weren't there already) can embolden the bottom line or help pay some of the cost of those assets.

  • Kernschatten

    I'd like to see if a good Diablo clone could be done on a touchscreen.

  • Himmat Singh

    Well honestly, Android gaming is OK. I wait in anticipation and excitation for new games, especially Tegra ones. We only have had around 5/6 new Tegra games. Also, top games such as Max Payne, Mass Effect and NOVA 3 are all being stalled to be brought onto Android.

    Also, most games run more smoothly at a higher framerate on iPad2/3. I am speaking from experience as I have both the Tab 10.1 and iPad 2.

    But still, Android gaming has come a long way. In the long run, Android will win. But it will be hard, as there are many issues that delay/don't make iPad games come to our platform. EG: Piracy, screen sizes, processor variation, OS number.

    • Himmat Singh

       BTW just to share, my most awaited games for the next few months are:

      - BladeSlinger
      - NOVA 3
      - Mass Effect

  • Mark Arpon Gjødvad

    I hate the fact that Plants vs Zombies wont work on my Galaxy S2. It always ends up freezing at some point. I mean come on! It's not like the Galaxy S2 is incapable of running it...

    • MacVities

      PvZ working great here on my Xperia Arc S.   You didn't get the old crappy version from Amazon did you?

      • Mark Arpon Gjødvad

        No, I got it from the Play Store. It starts fine, but at some point the frame freezes while the music keeps going.

        It may have something to do with my phone running CM9... :/

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000308704523 Andrew Leatherbarrow

       Works fine on my GS2.

  • tBs_Battousai

    I'd like to see manufacturers move to a four month release schedule, two low end devices, one with a keyboard one without... then four months later two mid range devices, again one with keyboard one without then four months later two high end flagship models and again one with keyboard one without
    This would mean a one year update cycle for all devices and everyone is happy...
    Also would like to see a standard location for charging points on phones ..

  • http://www.androidportal.sk/ Lukas

    I can't complain. Osmos is all that takes for me to be happy :-)

    • Edd

      God I've lost about a week of the last month on this game...

  • TomahawkFTL

    This so-called "Mobile Gaming" is just in its infancy. Yes, Angry Bird is a game, but it's not Dragon Age, hell it's not even as close to any of the Final Fantasy game (there are tons of shooter games you could compare to, not even mentioning flash on PC). So only the most retarded, ill-informed, short-sighted people would bring up Mobile gaming in the same sentence as PC and console. It has been done before and undoubtedly will be done in the future. The thing is that might soon be the past. With the hardware catching up and developers seeing money to be had, mobile gaming will be a force to recon with, I hope.   (Yes, there are other great games out there that are comparable to full-fledged PC and console titles. But not many and most poorly supported.) That's my 2c.

  • MacVities

    The problem is lazy journelism following Android ports of Apple games, and not actually bothering to look at Android games....

    Take Apparatus for example....

  • Skillit

    The quality of gaming on Android has improved a lot over the past six months, the majority of the title available on iOS are already or soon to be available on Android, with only one big title to my knowledge not been brought.

    There are several old games been ported exclusively for Android and the quality of emulators has been improving very fast.

    When all is taken in account, I think that Android gaming is on pair, if not somewhat better depending on your preferences, the in iOS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000308704523 Andrew Leatherbarrow

    A year ago I'd have definitely said that it was sorely lacking. These days, as with apps, Android certainly isn't as well off as the iPhone, but there are more than enough quality games to keep anyone happy.

  • Brian Breniser

    Android gaming is at heart (much like apple-stuff) casual. It is enough to allow me to download a thing here or there, but I've paid about $1.50 total for every game I've tried combined (And all of those were deals of some sort, that is like 5 games I've paid for...), most are free.

    What Android needs is a really, really good game. Something people will pay $10-$15 for, something that works with external controllers/keyboards/mouse, or a combination of touchscreens and those products. Something that you can get 30 people in the game at the same time with and beat each other to hell. Although, touchscreens make for good gaming too, just good casual gaming. But maybe a combination is best.

    Alas, the platform is just not strong enough yet, maybe when mobile technology gets to be as fast as the current platforms (2015 or something like that was estimated as when mobile chips will be as fast as the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, these are a few years old now though). Hell, maybe Andorid will be available on faster processors, i'm sure Intel would love to get their hands on it (they DO, they already made an Intel phone!), and Nvidia is obviously showing interest in mobile GPU technology for mobile gaming (just imagine if android worked on your gaming pc!). I'm looking to the future of faster chips and more cinematic level gaming.

  • thtechnologist

    Gaming is lackluster on tablets alone period. When you add a controller and a game that can use it, it's not too bad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    I would say that the support of games and applications on the Android platform is improving, but still is far compared to Apple's App Store collection.

    While independent game developers such as Rovio, Madfinger (to name a few, but there are many) have made or ported games to the Android platform which is great. There are still many independent games which are still exclusive to the iOS platform.

    The biggest gripe I have is that their is little support on Android for the big game companies like Square Enix and Capcom (also Rockstar for not porting ChinaTown Wars), they released ports of some of their most popular games but we Androids haven't seen them.

    Square Enix for example didn't port their Final Fantasy iOS ports (which would have been awesome as I can think of several people including myself who would buy these) and Capcom could have ported Ace Attorney to the Android platform from iOS too.

    Fact is there are many who still neglect Android and until then gaming on Android will be an acceptable but lacklustre experience!

  • http://twitter.com/MrYuzhai *Certified_geek™

    more than games - i want apps that are new and useful.. exclusives, killer apps, well designed which not only look good but are also useful.

  • El Sid

    There are plenty of great games which are fantastic on Android

    Shadowgun
    Limbo
    Angry Bots 9mb

    these games all have great graphics

  • fixxmyhead

    im happy with the 1$ games. were not playing 50$ games so what do u expect

  • http://twitter.com/rdlf2048 Rodolfo Ferreira

    NVIDIA is trying to outcome and outperform the company behind SnapDragon. While competition is good, they're using Android Game scenario to show who's more powerful. The problem is, every semester NVidia comes up with something 'new', they want to make everything subsequently tied up to their newest hardware. So they make Madfinger/SEGA/you name it folks to develop a new game *ONLY FOR* NVidia's newest hardware. This is awful. Thanks to NVidia's behave, they've imported console-type war into Android Gaming. You want that new game? Sorry, previous-version(-of-this-new-processor) owners, you gotta buy this big guy to enjoy it. On top of that, Android gamers come to AP and vote "it's enough to keep me happy" come on! This answer is mediocre, how come you guys expect to play a game and tell me "it's good for a phone" if your phone's hardware is better than previous console generation? Google should step up and say 'this is an OPEN platform! we gotta support previous generation because all those games we sell are Open GL ES-based!" But instead, they keep watching passively.
    If NVidia or any game developer wants some loyal consumer to always buy and play their games, they better show some love. Last but not least, Android is not all about mobile gaming! This is what windows 8 is trying to be, both desktop and tablet-based OS! You can play an Android game all the way from your cellphone (mobile) to the tablet version (desktop) with THE SAME OS! THE s-a-m-e OS! And yet nobody CARES to support your docked keyboard and mouse, forcing you to root your tablet or look for $ome other alternatives. WHY don't you talk about that on your IO 2012 event, Google?!