Board Gaming on Mobile Devices
I fell out of love with mobile gaming ages ago. What once was a platform full of potential has degraded into a free-to-play money grab for the likes of Farmville, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans. For those of you that like those kinds of games, that’s great. However, the types of games and the business models that drive them no longer appeal to my gaming sensibilities. At this point, my final vestige of mobile gaming comes from digital adaptations of analog board games.
When the App Store first came out, one of the first games I ever bought was Scrabble. It’s improved dramatically over time, though I played a ton of this one years ago. From there, I moved onto other mainstream board games, such as Life and Monopoly. The classic property game gets a lot of flack, but I think part of its problem as a physical board game is that the vast majority of people play it wrong. With a digital version set to the default rules, you can play it as intended, which still isn’t great, but better than most people will ever give it credit for.
Beyond the mainstream classics, many designer board games have a presence on iOS too. My go-to games nowadays are Ticket to Ride and Stone Age. Both of these are great physical games that work really well during my subway commute. From time-to-time, I also play Qwirkle, Blokus and Yomi. The latter is particularly handy, as it’s almost impossible for me to play the card game with anyone in real life, so having AI competition makes the game accessible to me in a way that it almost never is in the real world.
Most recently, Pandemic has been ported to the iPhone. This is one of my all-time favourite board games and having this in my pocket at all times sounds like an amazing proposition. As of writing, I haven’t played it yet, though expect a full review in the near future!
The thing I like about board gaming on mobile devices is that I find that board games work really well on the go. Most of them begin and end in a relatively short amount of time. You can pause them at any point and come back later. If you’re with a friend, pass-and-play is usually an option available. Most of the time, it’s an option for me to play a board game I already like, though it’s also an avenue for me to try games first before spending the big bucks on a physical copy.
Unlike most of the games on mobile app stores, most of these games come with an upfront price. Outside of Carcassonne, which comes in at a hefty $12 price tag on the Canadian App Store, most titles are $5 or less. Compared to their analog counterparts, these are notably cheaper. For games like Ticket to Ride or Stone Age, where I’ve played them hundreds of times, this value is insane. Furthermore, most of these don’t limit my use of it in order to beg me for more money every two minutes.
Mobile gaming is mostly dead to me, but the board game genre keeps me from leaving for good. These titles that were originally designed to be played with physical components on a table work really well as mobile games. Furthermore, they’re reasonably priced and allow me to play them alone; something that usually isn’t an option for most physical board games. With more big board game franchises on the way like King of Tokyo and Twilight Struggle, the future for board games on mobile is bright, even if the rest of the marketplace is a mess.