Well, it is and it is not. I've been thinking a lot about the way we spend money on electronics. In the room where I'm writing this, I have at least nine different devices that allow me to get online, check emails, communicate, and play MMOs. Have I spent too much money, or was I smart in my decisions? What happens to all of these devices after I'm done with them? Is the gaming PC the smarter path?
Rise and Shiny is a column that forces me to really search for MMOs, but even then I mostly cover client- and browser-based MMOs because of the difficulties of streaming a mobile game live. Rise and Shiny always features a livestream or video of my playtime in the game I am covering that week. So the column you are reading now is reserved for mobile MMO gaming. Sure, it's a much smaller world than most other genres, but it's growing along with mobile devices' ability to perform more like a standard desktop machine.
"It's a bit ironic that I am so in love with mobile gaming but rarely leave the house long enough to take full advantage of gaming while on the go."
So what is the difference between buying new mobile products every so often and purchasing a new or upgraded desktop every few years? Is there a difference, or am I just on a parallel hamster wheel of neverending purchases?
I think there is a key difference between mobile and desktop: cost. While both mobile technology and desktops are becoming cheaper, MMOs and other client-based games will continually challenge the power of our desktops. There will always be a new client or graphics option that will push our desktops to the brink of meltdown, forcing us to travel once again to the local Fry's or Best Buy. I'm facing this battle right now because my PC is starting to show signs of wear, especially when I stream games for MassivelyTV. Soon I will have to either buy a new PC or spend hundreds on upgrading my current one.
Don't get me wrong; mobile gaming is being challenged with nicer-looking games as well. Thanks to products like the wonderful Google Nexus 7 tablet, though, mobile gaming is becoming more powerful while falling in price. For $200, a mobile fan can get one of the most powerful and portable gaming machines on the market. Forget buying a new 3DS or PlayStation Vita; get a tablet instead and have access to amazing games and MMOs that are a fraction of the cost. The demand for tablets is going up, and so the prices will continue to come down. Gaming PCs were always more of a niche than a standard workstation, so those powerful rigs continue to climb.
"Except when it comes to graphics, mobile MMOs feature the same things you can find on any desktop: persistent worlds, real-time action, and deep strategy."
I will not pretend that mobile MMOs can do everything that desktop clients can. But the only difference is in how realistic a desktop client can look, while mobile MMOs are still limited by a phone or tablet's power. Except when it comes to graphics, mobile MMOs feature the same things you can find on any desktop: persistent worlds, real-time action, and deep strategy. On top of that, mobile devices come with browsers that offer basically the same experience (minus Flash) that you can find on a desktop browser. Between the browser and the app market, mobile MMO gaming now offers scores of titles.
I think I can rest easy knowing that my mobile tech obsession is nowhere near as costly as my older desktop upgrade need. Is the hamster wheel of upgrading the same between the two? It is... in practice. The difference is that upgrading a new phone or tablet every two years costs a fraction or maybe half of what it costs to keep up with the latest desktops, and the mobile market is growing faster than any other gaming market we've seen. We're getting much more powerful mobile devices, at a much lower cost, than ever before.
To me that's a huge difference. I think I'll stick to the two-year plan.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.