[Infographic] Everything You Need to Know About HDR Gaming

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Anthony Beyer's photo of a Star Wars Trooper

The Force Gets A Mobile Game Update

Anthony Beyer's photo of a Star Wars Trooper

Star Wars isn’t new. In the late 1970s, the world was introduced to the fantastical galaxy of the future created George Lucas, in which humans, robots and other forms of life coexist, sometimes in harmony but most times not, as the title suggests. Still, with its most recent release, The Force Awakens, the famous franchise is gaining even greater popularity with old and new fans. Undeniably the biggest film of the last year, The Force Awakens continues to break records, having already made 2015 the highest ever box office to date, and tracking to shatter a previous record established by the film Avatar as the highest grossing film in American and Canadian history.

anthony beyer - star wars sand dunes

Because of its popularity, everyone from Subway to Covergirl has joined the force, bolstering the film and certainly benefiting from its acclaim in the process. The gaming world is on board, too. Celebrating the release of the Force Awakens, Star Wars game developers have updated content to reflect new characters and plot lines.

Anthony Beyer's screenshot of Star Wars' commander game
Disney Interactive Studios

All of the games are available on iOS with some available for download on Android, Amazon and Windows phone as well. Those which have been updated include:

Star Wars: Commander

Star Wars: Force Collection

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes

Anthony Beyer's photo of movie like plane

 

Also, the following games are offering deep discounts* on in-app purchases:

Disney Infinity: Toy Box 3.0

LEGO Star Wars

Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions

Star Wars: Uprising

* The discounts coincided with the launch of the movie on Dec. 18. No details on whether or not or how long they will continue.

Star Wars looking space area

 

Nevertheless, all of the games mentioned are free to download, and there are dozens of others across all platforms. Do a simple search for “Star Wars” in your device’s application store if you want to compare options and find the most engaging game. Enjoy and “May the force be with you!”

Star Wars mountain space

Why Game Developers Prefer iOS

Black iPhone showcasing native apps, held by Anthony Beyer
Anthony Beyer – iPhone home screen

Less than a decade ago, the iPhone launched and changed the worlds of tech and telecommunications forever. One of many brainchildren of the late Steve Jobs, the iPhone’s popularity with consumers quickly dominated all conversation about smartphones, upon its release, from apps to the relevance of a keyboard, its appearance (at the time, it was available only in black with silver), and, of course, its unique operating system. Since that time, however, it has experienced stiff competition in the mobile devices/software sector, most notably from Google-powered Android systems.

In 2014, nearly 7 years after its initial release, the iPhone had amassed over 470 million sales of its product; the incredible growth has been lauded by companies and investors the world over. Still, the number pales in comparison to the amount of devices which operate on the Android system: a whopping 1 billion users, which is more than half of iPhone/iOS users, overall. With such a large difference, it would seem that game/app developers would be looking to get their creations into as many hands as possible. Think about it, 1 billion people with access to a game you created would be cool, to say the least. However, for many developers, it’s not at all that simple.

A black iPhone 6 with purple home screen on AMOLED display, pictured in Anthony Beyer's car.
Anthony Beyer – iPhone 6

In fact, simplicity is just one of the reasons developers are choosing to launch on iOS as opposed to Android. Considering that iOS only runs on Apple devices, developers only have to test a few models, about 10, according game developer Barry Meade. On the other hand, Android runs on a number of different devices from various companies, with multifarious hardware, interfaces, etc. As a result, developers may have to test up hundreds–yes, hundreds–of different devices to ensure that the game works properly across all platforms.

Subsequently, most developers go with an iOS first strategy, resulting in a slow rollout of games on the Android side. Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon, further explained the reason behind this, saying: “…with an iOS-first strategy you can release the game to many users with only a small chance of bugs arising due to differences in hardware, which means that when a bug does arise on iOS it’s likely unconnected to the hardware and by fixing it, you are also fixing that bug for any future Android build.”

A picture of a phone running android software, taken by Anthony Beyer.
Anthony Beyer – Phone running Android Software

But that isn’t the only reason developers prefer iOS to Android. According to multiple studies, like this one by App Annie Index, Apple’s iOS users buy more apps than Android users. Furthermore, they spend nearly four times as much on apps, despite the large differences in the number of users worldwide. Also, Android development typically costs 30% more than iOS development. Therefore, by choosing to place games on iOS, developers are getting more bang for their buck in multiple ways.

Nevertheless, Kuchera did make clear that the preference for Apple has nothing to do with Android users, themselves. In the previously-linked article, he expressed that Android users were great and that the experience with the software was pleasant. However, he clarified, “as a dev you’ve also got to take the platform’s particularities into account. One thing I knew going into it was that the ‘unpaid install’ rate would likely be around 95 percent and this is exactly what I’ve observed. In a lot of cases the smart thing to do is to convert your premium game to be free-to-play on Android, but that just didn’t make sense for Prune, nor was it something that I was personally interested in.”

Anthony Beyer opens his new smartwatch

Gaming & The Smartwatch

Anthony Beyer's photo of high tech, black and blue smartwatch.
Anthony Beyer – Futuristic Smartwatch

From arcade games to consoles, computers to Game Boys, and smartphones to tablets, gaming and, therefore, game development has evolved rapidly over the last three decades. As technology has continued to expand, so has the world of development and possibilities for creatives in the industry. Yet, while cell phones are seemingly getting larger, with a desire for more visual space from consumers, another much, much smaller platform is on the horizon, providing an additional though exciting challenge for developers: the smartwatch.

While some publications like TechRadar.com have traced the history of the smartwatch to the early 1980s–with Seiko’s Pulsar NL C01, which could be connected to a printer and included a memory cartridge slot–the devices of yesteryear were not nearly as advanced as what is available to consumers now, mostly because of technological advances, like bluetooth and wireless connectivity, some 30 years later. In fact, up until very recently, the popularity and overall necessity of such a device was uncertain. Yet, with Apple selling 6 million of the devices since its release earlier this year, and with expectations to double that number with 4th quarter holiday sales, eyes are on the smartwatch as the next big (figuratively speaking, of course) thing.

Anthony Beyer's photo of an apple watch with the clock, date and time displayed
Anthony Beyer – Smartwatch Clock

Aki Järvilehto, CEO and founder of Everywear Games, personally believes that the smartwatch is the ideal gaming platform. Speaking about the Apple Watch, specifically, he said the smartwatch will change the development world for the following reasons: “They’re always available and will get you in the game in seconds, much faster than any other platform. We are already seeing a frequency of use among our players that is simply unprecedented in games.” And unlike other platforms, games are shorter, more simple, or what Järvilehto has called “Twitter-sized” entertainment, making games on the device possibly more addictive, resulting in more frequent use.

Not everyone is sold on smartwatch gaming, however. Some of the caution has been attributed to the difficulty for developers to manage advertising and for the lack of interest in paid games, in comparison to other platforms, at present. Nevertheless, experts suggest that dismissing the idea altogether could be a mistake, considering that shifts in gaming have been consistent with almost every new invention, using the fact that mobile gaming has exceeded desktop gaming in popularity, as an example.

Another factor for developers to consider is the decline in growth in mobile gaming revenue. Recent datashows that revenue of six popular mobile gaming companies grew a combined 1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, in stark contrast to the rapid growth in years prior, signaling that the market is at maturity. Research analyst and CFO for Zynga Asia suggests that what could save the industry is development in untapped markets and “unexplored territories.”

Anthony Beyer on a drive with, using his smartwatch for directions
Anthony Beyer – Driving with a Smartwatch

At any rate, smartwatch gaming is relatively new, so skepticism is natural. However, all signs point to continued growth and advancement. As with anything else, those who get there first will have some advantages and will likely be first to see the benefits. It’s too early to tell whether the platform will be as large as, say, cell phones or desktop; however, there is growth and that deserves some consideration.