The last 4 games, all small ones, that I have completed for mobile devices are all stand-alone single-player. Block Rockin’ was mostly an exercise in getting to know the Shiva game engine, but also a fun little physics-based block breaker. Mars Defender was really an outgrowth of some experimentation with spaceship models and testing out of some roleplaying ideas in Shiva. Afterburn 2150, perhaps the graphically most impressive of the games (but also perhaps the one worst received by players), was the result of some playing around with rail-shooter concepts and tilt-based game controls. And Let’s Break Stuff! was really an attempt at making a more broadly appealing casual game using Shiva’s excellent physics engine as well as some nice 3D models from Dexsoft that were really begging to be used. I would classify Mars Defender as a minor success, probably for its unique and quirky little story coupled with retro gameplay, while early indications are that Let’s Break Stuff! will be the most successful of the lot, judging from its reception on the BlackBerry PlayBook and Android.
Sales of single-player mobile-device games really tails off fast though, from what I can see. Mars Defender has already slumped to a trickle, only 6 months after release. The development effort involved makes a poor trade-off versus what I have seen with Darkwind, which is still going strong after 5 years. Admittedly, Darkwind is a very different beast, but I’m increasingly convinced that online games are the thing to do. Mobile online games are also relatively under-represented on the app stores, and at the same time mobile broadband is ubiquitous. Sure, there are some successful poker apps and others such as town/farm/empire-building games, and a few ‘lite’ MMOs. My son is still convinced that my High School RPG concept, which mixes Roguelike play with resource-based strategy, is a good one. I have also bought a really nice pack of zombies from 3drt.com, and I’m playing around with these and some ideas about multiplayer co-operative turn-based survival games.