Mixed media and the four screens world: latest trends at the mobile game development market

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, I hope, you’ve enjoyed my previous articles about new mobile operational systems: Firefox OS and Ubuntu Phone. Today, meet a more entertaining article telling you about some latest trends at the mobile game development market. 

As for me, I don’t play games very often because of a constant time pressure. But that is the very reason making me appreciate good mobile games – with well thought-out story, game mechanics, design and music. When I find a few minutes for playing a mobile game after all, I want to enjoy it and not to regret my wasted time. That’s why I’m trying to watch the latest tendencies of the mobile game development market and to choose really high-quality games. Here are some points that seemed interesting to me. 

1. Remakes of old/classic PC games and their adaptation for mobile platforms

The famous game designer Jordan Mechner, which has developed Prince of Persia, is also the author of another famous game Karateka. The fighting Karateka was very advanced for its time and was notable for realistic animations and an involving atmosphere. By April 1985, Karateka was the best-selling game in the U.S. That success convinced Mechner that he can earn his living by game development, and he started creating the legendary Prince of Persia. Until the end of November 2013, the new Karateka should appear in the Steam directory and PlayStation Store, a mobile game version for iOS is expected, too. 

2. Transition to the "mixed-media" principle in mobile games development
“Mixed media” is a new idea in the entertainment branch defining the strategy of product development. According to the mixed-media idea​​, when creating a mobile game (like any other entertainment brand), one should plan its development based not on technologies but on the communication channel. The success of Rovio and their "Angry Birds" in the souvenirs niche led many other mobile software developers to believe that mobile game development and the rest entertainment industry are much closer to each other than it seemed before. So, we can assume already at the project start how we may develop its story through cartoons or comics in the future, how our game characters may look as plush toys, and how the game logo may be placed on the for smart phones cases, etc. 

A striking example is the Angry Birds game brand producing huge amounts of souvenirs, clothing, and stationery. Their latest hit is the Angry Birds fizz that became the best-selling drink in Finland and left behind even Coca-Cola and Pepsi. And in February 2013 the third theme park Angry Birds will be opened in Haining, China. Now, such parks already host guests in Finland and the UK. 

3. The four screens concept
The point of the four screens idea suggested by Google is that a user should easily switch between the same information on his/her smart phone, tablet PC, desktop PC and laptop, and TV. These features should be taken into account when adapting a mobile game design, controlling, game session length and multiplayer options. A very important aspect of this concept is that a user should easily switch between different screens. As Google studies show, 90% of all users start an activity (e.g. playing games or searching the Web) on one gadget and continue it on another one. Many people have several devices switched on parallel (as for me, I often play mobile games on my smart phone while the TV set is running in the background). Now, almost all users live in the world of four screens that are connected with each other. Mobile software developers have to take this fact into account when creating games. 

What do you think about the whole thing? Have you already felt that you live in the four screen world? What mobile game characters would you like to see on your couch as plush toys? And what old school PC game do you want to play on your smart phone? 

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