The (sometimes)Wonderful World of Disney Mobile Games
It’s no secret that for a while now, Disney has more or less washed their hands of the traditional games model. They hand out licenses to Electronic Arts and Square Enix, tie-ins that are directly related to shows and movies are non-existant on consoles.
And then there are mobile games. Disney puts out mobile games both tied to current properties and just original stuff like all the time. Not directly, of course, usually published and developed by established mobile developers like Gameloft. But mobile is the platform where you’ll most often find games starring your favorite Disney characters.
Unfortunately, mobile games also have a reputation (not completely underserved in some cases) for being designed in a way to wring the absolute most money out of you. They often come out as free but after a little while you run out of “energy” or some other currency that lets you keep playing or you can run into a really difficult stage that maybe you could pass if you had more items, and what luck, this chest/diamond/whatever full of stuff is on sale for just $1.99!
But wait, this game was sold to me as something free! How dare they charge me money! This isn’t a real game! News flash: yes, it still is. It might be a game with poorly designed monetization, but mobile games are just as valid games as anything on a console. People worked hard to make them, work hard maintaining them, nothing wrong with asking for a few bucks to keep them going. Obviously the key is to not overspend but if you are getting hours of enjoyment out of a constantly updated product, tossing a few bucks their way now and again isn’t a huge ask.
There are good ones, there are bad ones. There are two big differences with mobile games, however: 1. Since most are free to play, it breaks down to how fairly they monetize things. 2. Pretty much all mobile games, even ones you paid for, potentially have a shorter shelf life than most console/PC games. I can easily play games from several years ago on my consoles, with a little effort I can play games from 20+ years ago. It’s rare to see a mobile game that’s more than a few years old still going strong and not just shut down and you are just unable to play it period.
That sucks. video game preservation as a whole pretty much sucks but it’s especially bad for mobile games. There isn’t an easy answer, as to keep the game available they’d have to constantly update it to run with somewhat current mobile software, but I dunno maybe when a mobile game has really run its course just release a 5-$10 version on PC or Switch that comes with unlimited play. It’s still a way to get some $ off it and you don’t have to keep constantly updating it.
Though I’ve only dabbled here and there in mobile games in the past, this month and going forward I intend to devote a lot more time to ones focused on Disney properties, and I’ve been having a pretty enjoyable time so far. I’ve been checking out Disney Heroes: Battle Mode for a few months now, just recently gotten into Marvel: Contest of Champions, and trying out the newest Disney mobile game, Disney Getaway Blast. The first is an RPG where different Disney characters can team up and form a party and you upgrade and unlock them and it’s actually pretty easy to play a good amount without engaging in any monetization whatsoever, and while I haven’t yet, I might spend a few bucks to unlock favorite characters if it isn’t just a random loot box thing and I can get exactly who I want. The second is a mobile fighting game that’s simplistic but fun and while it definitely has a mind-boggling amount of different currencies that are a little hard to grasp, I again have not felt any need or urge to spend actual money, but I can see where I might.
Disney Getaway Blast actually is actually the only one of these where I have hit a wall fairly quickly as it’s only been out a few days. However, the way it is incentivized and monetized is not motivating me to spend money like they are encouraging me to. The design is fun enough, you “pop” the various bubbles of matching colors, trying to get certain types with a limited number of moves. You can, of course, get items that help out like firecrackers and bombs and each character has special moves that can be charged up. But I’ve hit a hard wall only 36 levels into this game that literally has hundreds of levels and sure I could pay to get enough gold or items to simply brute force my way to the next level, but that doesn’t feel good. As it’s new I will probably give it a little more time to see if it keeps my interest in any way, but I have a bunch of other Disney mobile games to try (like Kingdom Hearts Union Cross or Where’s My Water 2) so it may fall by the wayside fairly quickly.
There’s a whole wide world of mobile Disney games out there. Some are genuinely great and not trying to just gouge you, and others need some work. Not unlike many modern console games really. If you’ve been dismissive before, check out your app store give them a shot and if you really like them, maybe even send a few bucks to the hardworking people who gave you so much entertainment, is it really any different than spending money on a console game that also might have DLC and microtransactions you paid for because you enjoyed the game and want more of it? That’s all for now, see ya real soon!