Toilets, Stars and Chillaxing – Iphone game trends

Here at Psync we like to keep an open mind about any possible opportunities that are open to us in the world of games. ‘Mobile’ gaming is something that has been touched upon by myself way back before it became one of the biggest gaming platforms in the world, as it is today.

So with that in mind, I’m here to list what seem to be the winning elements required to make an iPhone game popular.

Toilet Factor
iPhone games are made for toilets - they just are. What’s nicer than doing your business and playing a level of your favourite game? I recently downloaded 2 games: Monkey Island 2 and a game called Slice It (as I write this, Slice It currently sits at the top of the iPhone charts). Now arguably, MI2 is a superior game by far. It’s clearly had a massive team of artists, actors, programmers, etc behind it, yet it fails to make an impression. This is because the creators have failed to address the toilet factor. When you go to the loo you turn off, well I do anyway, the John that sits on the John is not the John you all know, he is a relaxed John, a switched off John, a John that cannot remember his previous toilet trip and frankly doesn’t care. This John certainly cannot remember what he was doing with that wood polish the last time he played monkey island.

Slice it on the other hand is made up of very short puzzles involving slicing geometry into equal parts (if there was ever a reason for Viz to get an iPhone then this is it). Once you’ve solved the puzzle, the game saves and you can tackle the next one. It really wouldn’t matter if you had been constipated for several days you could open that game and carry straight on without worrying about anything you’d done previously. It and other popular games have (it’s got to be done) sh*t loads of the Toilet Factor!

Stars have become quite popular recently in iPhone games. They let you know how well you have done on a level. If you just scrape through then one star is most likely heading your way out of a potential 3 or 5. It’s an odd thing, but there is definitely some sense of pride that will egg you on to have another go and try and work out the best solution to get those priceless extra stars!

Single Finger Fun
These new fangled touch screen smart phones are pretty sweet. One reason being that the input method can now be anything you can draw on a screen, be it qwerty keyboard, D-Pad, analogue-stick. Though obviously the more buttons and pads you have on screen, the less and less you can see.

On the same note as too many fingers spoil the iPhone game - games that let the player lift there finger or thumb every now and then to allow them to decide what to do next, tend to also do very well for themselves. I’m sure this is down to the Toilet Factor. The thing is that for alot of people, a smart phone game is going to be something to play when they have nothing better to do, possibly on the bus, while waiting for someone, when work gets so monotonous that they just need to escape for a few minutes, etc. They want to be able to pick up a game and be able to play it under their rules (this is completely a casual gaming thing, I would presume any hardcore gamer couldn’t care less about such things). So, if they can start a level of something and then go back to doing work, before finishing the level as soon as no-ones looking, it’s going to bode well. I’m not proposing that time-limits need to be abolished, but might help matters!

Hide and find (better than hide and seek)
People like finding hidden things. Angry birds employs a system of hiding golden eggs throughout it’s levels and you find a golden egg then a new bonus level (remember those?) will be opened to reward you for finding that ruddy egg! Also anything with the word “mystery or manor” in the title does very well! People like a mystery!

If we do go down the path of hand-held erm phone games for a while in order to fund our bigger ambitions (apologies for that terribly constructed sentence) then these are some rules I hope we can abide by.


    There are so many awesome and addictive iPhone games out there, and the vast majority of these are simple (or at least they look simple before you play them) puzzle-based games and then your no-brainer addictive games (such as Fruit Ninja, that game is pure genius on so many levels!). Now, as much as I love or admire the skill, passion and graphics that go into a lot of the next generation console games, there is definitely something satisfying and sometimes even nostalgic about the smaller touchscreen titles. There’s also an accessibility value to them as well, especially when it comes to sitting on the bog! Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Hoggy and Zombie Flick (bloody genius game, and in 3D too… check it out John-bwoy) are prime examples. Looking through the app store last night I decided to go to the Best Games You’ve Never Played section and discovered some awesome games I wanna get when I’ve got some cash, including some brilliant retro-style ones. As well as that I have seen a fair few decent-looking old-skool adventure/point n’ click titles including one called ‘Hector: Badge of Carnage’, a wonderfully stylistic and England-set detective comedy which I think Psync could have made.

    Overall, there is definite potential for us at Psync to carve our own little niche in the mobile/touchscreen games market, something to seriously consider anyway…

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