Horn developer Phosphor Games won itself some enemies when it announced its new iOS game by saying mobile phones were "replacing" consoles. During an interview with game director Chip Sineni, we asked about the reaction to this statement, and how Phosphor regards the more "traditional" gaming platforms.
"First of all, consoles and PCs are awesome, we aren’t trying to take away from that," he promised. "All of us here play those systems all the time, and we will continue to make games for those platforms, and I don’t think any console or PC players should play mobile games if they don’t want to!"
As far as the damnation for traditional gaming goes, Chip revealed that what he said was part of a larger statement that had been cut up for the trailer by everybody's favorite public enemy, Zynga. In a case of being overruled by the marketing department, Sineni was thrust into the video against his better judgment, his comments stripped of all context. That's usually our job!
Funnily enough, the footage used for Horn's trailer were not even filmed for the trailer. It was made for a Zynga promo but got shoved into the game's announcement footage.
"The quotes on that video needs some context," argued the director. "First of all, it was all taken out of a Zynga PR video, not a proper game trailer for Horn. As much as I am a giant tool, I'd never put myself in a proper trailer. Second, the quotes I said were all cut out of larger interview and reordered for a sound bite."
If it sounds like Sineni is trying to avoid responsibility for his statements, he made it clear that he stands by what he said. However, one important clarification is that he doesn't think consoles are going anywhere, and that his claims are about the mass market, as opposed to the core gamer demographic.
"I still stand by what is in there. The first quote that got people riled up was 'Mobile and tablet systems are quickly becoming the main way people play games, replacing consoles.' That is a fact, it isn’t an opinion."
To back up the statement, Chip pointed us toward a recent study by Asymco where results had iOS emerging as the most popular gaming platform in the industry today. On the subject of consoles being replaced, it's Phosphor's belief that this is not necessarily true for gamers, but it is certainly the case with the less dedicated audience looking for a quick gaming fix.
"I also didn't say the mobile platform is replacing consoles for GAMERS, just people, and that context is missing from the small sound bite. To give an example of what I mean -- when the PS2 was out, if you were a 'sideline gamer' and had any interest in games, you had a PS2. Same thing with DS, then same thing with Wii.
"People bought consoles because that was the main way to play games they were hearing about," he continued, "and you had massive hits like GTA3 because you had this huge gamer market and a huge curious casual gamer market all picking it up. Same thing with Wii Sports. Mobile is now that market for all non-gamers, which is why you are seeing slagging retail sales every month in NPD reports -- this is what the console market looks like with just core gamers supporting it. Meanwhile you have like one billion downloads of Temple Run vs people checking out what the latest console game is.
"None of this means console style games are going away or controllers suck, it just means mobile platforms are where the 'average person' now games."
To be honest, I really see nothing contentious about this -- but then again, I'm a self-confessed fan of mobile games who is just as happy playing Infinity Blade as I am The Elder Scrolls, so I admit that iOS' popularity isn't quite so scary to me. Regardless of your thoughts on mobile gaming, the idea of iOS as the new PlayStation 2 is an interesting proposition, and something that I feel has merit, speaking purely in terms of mainstream audience perception.
Where once everybody talked of GTA3, now indeed do they talk of Angry Birds. For better or worse.
We'll have a full interview with Phosphor Games on the subject of mobile gaming and Horn very soon.