Touch Controls like
nothing you’ve ever used
Vainglory is in my view an example of this absurd kind of thinking. The team, which I have no doubt is very capable, has made an excellent game by PC/Console standards, and they expected that would be enough to dominate competitive games on mobile. Its failure to do that so far.
I believe, has nothing to do with “hardcore” players not wanting to play games on mobile devices. I believe it is a symptom of the game not respecting those hardcore players enough.
So if I’m a hardcore player wanting to compete, I first have to set my tablet on the table, losing any benefit of this being a mobile device. Then I either have to get a stable angle stand for my iPad or risk a neck injury looking straight down. I have to play this game in a way I’d never play anything else on my device. The map itself is made of multiple points of interests, all at different places that I have to scroll to using a pretty clunky map, in order to keep track of what’s going on in the game.
While I was able to play a few matches of Vainglory on the tablet, the experience was full of “Why am I doing this? Why is this not on the PC? What exactly is the benefit of playing on a tablet, aside a “wow, that’s cool” factor in the first 5 minutes? Here’s what most user-uploaded images looked like for an event the Vainglory team ran, asking them to tweet how they play. You’d be excused to think we’re talking about a PC game.
Unreasonable Time and Attention requirements
Traditional developers from the PC/Console world frequently fail to understand this point: Mobile games can allow, but never require, the player’s attention for more than a few minutes at a time – especially if we’re talking about requiring their undivided attention. Such developers will then blame the failure of their mobile game on “casuals”, who are dominating mobile games and have tainted the beauty of games that take you into another world for hours at a time. Some of the same developers believe that, as mobile platforms mature, the “play focused 100% on the game for hours” pattern will become more accepted on mobile platforms.
This may be somewhat true of tablets, especially if they keep becoming bigger and less portable, but even there, it’s important to understand that if you demand the player’s complete attention for long periods of time, you are working against the platform.
Clunky controls aside, the thing I could barely believe when I first tried Vainglory was the duration of each match. I completely abandoned the game after my 4th/5th match, despite all the promise I was seeing in some of its innovative features, because I honestly had to leave the house after spending 27 whole minutes in a match.
If I had that much continuous free time every day, I would have stayed with League of Legends in the first place.