This is why I don’t play video games on mobile

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing Genshin Impact. A lot. It’s really awesome. I’ll probably talk about it in more detail sometime, however Bhagpuss’s first impressions and his fondness of the game’s fantastic exploration aspects mirror mine to a T, so I feel like I don’t have much to add at this point.

What I do want to talk about is my experience playing it on mobile, which is what the majority of players seems to be doing (I don’t know this for a fact, but I highly doubt that the PC and console versions combined come even remotely close to mobile’s 23+ million downloads).

In a word: Thanks, but no thanks!

Ok, that’s actually four words, but you get the idea.

Of course I was pretty stoked about the possibilities at first. Being able to play my current favourite game on PC when I’m at home and on my phone whenever I’m not? Hell yeah!

During my first two weeks in GI I made it a habit to fit 10-15 minute play sessions into my lunch breaks to burn some resin, the obvious benefit being that I didn’t run into the resin cap before getting home. Also, well, playing a great game during lunch break for a bit – what’s not to like?

Here’s the thing though: it isn’t nearly as much fun to play on the phone. At least to me it isn’t.

Genshin Impact might have been developed with mobile platforms in mind first and foremost, yet as far as I’m concerned it is a ‘real’, a ‘proper’ video game. What I mean by that is that it sports a fair amount of complexity, not only in terms of progression systems and such, but also when it comes to the actual gameplay and control schemes needed to execute said gameplay. Play itself this game does not.

Maybe I’m just too old for that kind of stuff, but playing the game on my phone instead of the PC kinda feels like playing with one hand tied behind my back. Hitting the right buttons for normal attack, special attack, ultimate and dodge, swapping characters in and out as needed, all while making sure to actually face the enemy I want to hit and being in range…it’s too fiddly and, frankly, too much for my thumbs to handle. I have only two, after all.

It isn’t just the combat either. Exploring the game’s gorgeous open world, collecting countless doodads and solving puzzles is tons of fun – actually more fun than the combat in my opinion – if the controls play ball. Which, on mobile, they do not.

On PC I have no problems whatsoever climbing walls and statues, doing balancing acts across narrow ledges or performing pinpoint-accurate landings with my glider. On the phone though? Oh boy. I couldn’t walk in a straight line with those controls if my driver’s licence was at stake. When one quest asked me to scale the largest statue in Mondstadt, stand on its hands and spread some dandelion seeds to the winds I was this close to throw the damn thing out the window.

So, yeah, it’s not fun and I’ve stopped doing it.

Gameplay issues aside, my phone doesn’t like the game much either.

I use an iPhone SE2, which sports the same CPU as the iPhone 11, so processing power shouldn’t be lacking. The game runs smooth enough for sure, but the device gets freaking hot within minutes. I’m not talking Need-to-wear-oven-mitts-hot, but it comes really close to that.

Also, the game sucks battery life like crazy. I usually charge the thing every three days or so; while I played those mere 10-15 minutes per day I had to plug it in every evening. Longer sessions would only be possible while charging at the same time – provided the phone doesn’t melt when doing that – which kind of defeats the purpose of playing on a mobile device, no?

In conclusion, playing Genshin Impact on my phone has, in my mind, confirmed what I’d assumed all along: there are mobile games and there are high-quality video games, and a game can be one or the other, but not both.

When I think of mobile games I mean those that are quick and easy to play, can be interrupted at any time and don’t strain hardware or player too much. Back when I had to commute I played stuff like Bejeweled or SEGA Heroes (which is Bejeweled, essentially) every now and then just to kill some time. It’s a good thing that games like those exist, don’t get me wrong. Even so, going by my definition this kind of game has as much in common with high-quality video gaming as Big Brother has with high-quality TV entertainment.

So yeah, please keep your promises of Our mobile game will be just as great as its predecessor on PC/console to yourself, dear developers – *cough*Blizzard*cough* – because it fricking won’t be.

Screen real estate, hardware specifications, power supply and, above all, controls – these are important things that set phones and tablets apart from ‘real’ gaming hardware, which is why even the highest-quality mobile game in existence – which, most likely, is Genshin Impact right now – can’t be nearly as enjoyable as its stationary counterpart, if it has one.

Hence, however great your game might be, if it can only be played on mobile I’ll never touch it, period.

5 Replies to “This is why I don’t play video games on mobile”

  1. Thanks for the write-up Mailvaltar, I’d been considering installing on my phone as well — especially since I was spending quite some time at the hospital a couple of weeks ago, but I just never got around to doing so even though there was one point where I was actively looking for something to put on the phone.

    Came very close to purchasing Stardew Valley for the third time (first two PC and Switch). xD

    Possibly I would have if the hospital stay for my wife had gone on too much longer. But yeah… Despite my insistence on keeping up (more or less, I go every second or third generation now) Mobile, I’ve still not found any particularly compelling games that last me more than the odd visit so far!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just started on this today (on PC) and I do definitely feel like if I had tried mobile first, I would have given up on it. It feels like a real, full PC game and the settings menu on PC reinforces that so much that I couldn’t even imagine playing it on a phone and haven’t tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I considered installing it on my Kindle Fire, which is obviously bigger than a phone, and where I’ve played a few MMORPGs with reasonable success. In the end, though, I couldn’t really imagine it working as well as it does on PC and you’ve confirmed that it doesn’t.

    If you want a proper MMORPG that playes well at least on a tablet, so probably also on a phone, you might try AdventureQuest3D. Although once again, even that is substantialy better on PC…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. @Wilhelm – You think it’s possible that they cancelled Immortal on the QT? Now that would be something.
    I haven’t tried Echoes, but after my experience with GI I’m even less keen to do so. I l just ike to do stuff with mouse and keyboard it seems.

    @everyone – Yeah, I guess usually playing on PC just completely spoils you – or me, at least. Of course games totally can be played on mobile, even the more complex ones like GI, but I just don’t enjoy it and probably never will.

    Like

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