Having played dozens of mobile games that label themselves as “MMOs”, I’ve been pretty disappointed with many game developers that use the term “MMO” too liberally. Having played games like Outcast Odyssey and Unison League, It’s easy to realize that these games aren’t exactly MMOs.
They’re certainly online RPGs, but they lack the key element of a game that actually makes it an MMO and that’s a persistent world. I’ve played Unison League on and off for a while and it’s a surprisingly fun game. It’s just not an “MMO” because it doesn’t have a persistent world. Instead, it has a persistent hub where players can interact, but much of the gameplay takes place in instanced zones. A bit like Dungeon Fighter Online and Dragon Nest actually.
Anyway. Having played dozens of non “MMO” mobile games, a game like Avabel Online is a pleasant surprise. Avabel is a traditional MMORPG with a large persistent world and thousands of players online at any given time. My only real complaint with Avabel is that playing it on a smaller screen, like the Iphone 4, is extremely difficult. It’s a lot more fun and more efficient on the iPad or a larger phone like the Galaxy Note.
You’d be surprised how few actual MMOs are on the mobile platform. Games like Monster Strike bring in like $3.8+M a day in revenue and bring little new to the table. If you’ve played Puzzle & Dragon or Brave Trials, Monster Strike isn’t exactly anything new, but still brings in the big bucks. It’s weird how successful these games are, but there are only a handful of actual MMORPGs on mobile.
I’ve written about plenty of mobile and web browser MMOs like Soldiers Inc. and Nova Genesis, so I’m going to write about something a bit different today. I’m going to write about a client based strategy MMORPG called Planetary Annihilation, the successor to the original Total Annihilation game. I stumbled upon Planetary Annihilation on Steam a couple of days ago and have been playing it quite a bit over the last 24 hours both online and single player. Starcraft was my first real time strategy game, but I remember playing Total Annihilation shortly afterwards. Planetary Annihilation is an incredibly fun game and builds upon the same core gameplay of the original title. Where the game really shines is its incredible scale.
Unlike traditional strategy games, Planetary Annihilation lets players battle on land, air, water, and even space. The game can be configured so the map takes place In an entire solar system, giving the game an epic scale typically not seen in RTS games. This kind of scale is usually reserved for slower paced games like Sins of a Solar Empire or Civilization V. On a slight tanget, I haven’t played Sins of a Solar Empire, but the company behind that game recently released a new MOBA called Sins of a Dark Age which is quite addicting IMO. The goal of the game is simple, destroy your enemy’s commander before they destroy yours. Metal and Energy are the game’s two resources and can be obtained in infinite quantities by capturing metal resource locations and building energy plants. The game’s scale really becomes apparent after getting 30 minutes into a game, as players can literally field 1,000+ units on the screen at once. In one long, drawn out game, I managed to build 800 ships and send them enmasse against my opponent, which was an epic battle. The sheer scale of battles in Planetary Annihilation is unmatched by any other game. I mean, technically, you can have thousands of soldiers on Sparta: War of Empires or other strategy games, but they’re just numbers on the screen. They aren’t actually on the field like they are in Planetary Annihilation.
My biggest complaint with the game is that there aren’t many players online. I think the game was marketed quite poorly as it’s hard to find anyone online to play with. The game did get a lot of flack by releasing the game to early access users for an eye popping $100 price tag. I ended up buying it on the Humble Bundle for like $5. So yeah, on the PC front, I’ve been playing Planetary Annihilation, but Iv’e also been playing Trove and Magicka: Wizard Wars. Both are fun and free to play. I’m a petty big fan of MOBAs too, and Dragons and Titans caught my eye earlier when I stumbled upon it on Steam. It’s actually available for Android as well through the Google play store. It’s one of the only mobile MOBAs i’ve seen and will likely write about it later. Anyway, that’s it for now. Anyone else play Planetary Annihilation? Anyone wanna play with me sometime?
Ever since I first played Starcraft back when I was 12 years old, I was immediately hooked on the genre. I played games like Starcraft and Age of Empires 2 online day in and day out. When Starcraft 2 was announced I pre-ordered it and began playing on Battle.net the day it came out. I quickly reached Diamond division (the highest in the game) and Masters division when it was later released. Since I can’t get my strategy fix from Starcraft on the go, I’ve been looking at various mobile strategy games.
Starcraft 2 one of my favorite RTS games
The first game I stumbled upon is one that most people should be familiar with, Game of War. Yes, it’s the same Game of War with all the Kate Upton commercials. I guess their advertising worked, because it’s one of the first mobile strategy games I played. I’m not exactly new to the genre, because I’ve been playing browser based strategy games like Summoner’s Legion and Total Domination, so I was able to pick up Game of War rather quickly. It’s actually an incredibly polished and functional game. It doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table, but it’s developed by a Western company, so that alone makes me feel comfortable with it, because a lot of Asian developed strategy games feel like money grabs. Ever play League of Angels Fire Raiders? It’s a complete money grab. Game of War has some pay to win elements too, but as does every strategy game on the browser and mobile. Game of War is definitely one of the most polished in the genre. Everything from the menus to the loading bars just look crisp and well made. The game is one of the highest grossing titles on the app store for a reason.
The next strategy game I tried was DomiNations by Nexon M. I’m not sure if they’re the same Nexon behind Dragons Nest and MapleStory 2, but either way, they make a pretty darn good game. I’m actually playing both DomiNations and Game of War regularly right now. The progression in DomiNations from the Stone Age all the way to modern times/space age is very reminiscent of Civilization, and this is likely so because the game’s lead designer is Brian Reynolds, the guy who literally designed Civilization 2 and Rise of Nations. So with a guy like Reynolds behind DomiNations, it’s not surprising that the game is incredibly fun.
DomiNations on Android
Anyway, these are just two games I stumbled upon and so far really enjoy. There are a lot of other games I plan to try soon and will probably write about them later. Empire: Four Kingdoms is one game I have my eye on, but right now two strategy games is more than enough for me. It’s hard to juggle two already, because when i’m at home, I prefer to play something on the PC rather than mobile, so I only get to play these games when i’m out and about.
Free to play MMORPGs have been a huge success on the PC with games like Dungeon Fighter Online and Tera having millions of registered users worldwide. The MMORPG genre is still fairly new on mobile devices, with Smartphone MMORPGs only recently becoming an attractive platform for MMOs. Mobile games for the most part have been limited to match 3 puzzle games like Cany Crush Soda Saga and Farm Heroes Saga, but with devices getting faster processors and better GPUs, mobile MMORPGs are growing on the platform. In fact, games likeTaichi Panda and League of Angels Fire Raiders already have millions or registered users world-wide. Blizzard Entertainment’s super successful collectible gard game, Hearthstone, also launched on Android and iOS devices in April, 2015, which only further supports my argument that mobile MMOs are rapidly growing in popularity.
Hearthstone is available on Android and iOS
Mobile MMOs are also taking on traditional web based strategy games. Browser based strategy games like Wartuneand Stormfall: Age of War for example are being replaced by mobile strategy games like Game of War. The reason for this is fairly obvious, as there’s little advantage to playing one of these strategy games on the PC when a mobile device offers the same experience, but is portable. These aren’t graphicaly intensive games and rarely require active attention. Game of War’s success on the mobile platform has been astounding. The game recorded over $600M in revenue in 2014, making it one of the most profitable mobile games of all time.
Typical Mobile Game – Candy Crush Soda Saga
Full fledged MMORPGs like Conquer Online have also enjoyed quite a bit of success on mobile platforms. Conquer Online is also available for free on the desktop, but the mobile version has been remarkably successful too. I expect more and more mobile MMORPGs to launch over the next few years with the genre further growing in popularity.