INSiGHT: Introducing GameStore for Android

By Thom Compton 11.02.2018 2

Mobile gaming gets a well deserved bad rap. With an endless supply of Match-3 games, IAPs, and clones of clones, it's easy to see why gamers are becoming more and more disillusioned with the idea that mobile gaming is the future. Of course, it's still a highly lucrative market, as a good portion of Activision's IAP sales from last year proved, but it's still got a lot of gamers feeling the future of gaming is shelling out tons of money on a title that is no different than the last three they have played. To paraphrase Bonnie Tyler, though, we've been holding out for a hero, and while GameStore's Netflix-style model may not resolve all issues entirely, it's definitely a great start.

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SnakeByte's GameStore is a streaming style service that downloads games directly to your phone; in this case, Android devices. After paying a monthly fee, you have access to a library of games to download and play as you like. There's some interesting titles on the service, such as Toby and the Secret Mine, which will appeal to those who haven't gotten a good Limbo fix since playing Feist.

Additionally, fans of Square Enix's Go series will be pleased to find all three of the titles available through the service. Additionally, the mobile Call of Duty releases, and the original Tomb Raider adventures are available. There are plenty of indie titles, also, like the second and third Stupid Zombie and Mini Metro. While the library could use more in the way of well known hits, there are plenty here to justify the cost.

There are a few ways GameStore handles the various pay models, and in order to break them down, further clarification is required on the most common pay models on mobile platforms. They are full priced, free with adverts, and then the dreaded IAP. The latter two groups often drift together, and on rare, but alarming, occurrences, full price games feature IAPs. Fortunately, GameStore removes all of those concerns, as you will never have to pay anything for any of the offerings.

Full price games are simply free, and there are no ads in any of the titles. The problem with GameStore is it is still at the whim of games with baked-in IAP features, such as purchasable hints or lives. Every day, the player is granted one dollar to use in the game. This dollar has no real world value, it just compensates for the money one might have spent had they purchased the game conventionally. Each game seems to start with 5 dollars, and then one dollar a day is earned after that.

Take a game like Deus Ex GO, for example. The player is able to buy hints, and should they run out of hints, they can purchase more if they have accumulated the cash. This works fine, but in other instances it fails to work so smoothly. An example of this is Stupid Zombies 3. This title uses a life system, the same as Candy Crush.

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The problem is, if you run out of lives, and you have no in-game currency to buy more, it's important to still have some funds saved back, or you will be stuck waiting the 30 minutes for additional lives. This is to be expected, as this system is baked into the game. It doesn't make the weird allowance system the game gives you any less frustrating in these cases, however.

Still, the GameStore is a great little app that just needs its kinks worked out. It's remarkably easy to navigate the store, and its minimalist design makes it very fluid to find new titles, even ones you would never have heard of, and never would have guessed were so good. GameStore feels more like a flea market than a proper store, pedalling some goods many would expect, and some hidden treasures never imagined.

GameStore is a beacon of hope that there are people in the gaming industry not just interested in appeasing shareholders. This is a service that is definitely designed with gamers in mind, and it's a breath of fresh air. While it definitely needs more titles, in just two weeks it has added quite a few, so a bigger library is definitely on its way. While its alternative to IAPs may have some drawbacks, it's a nice sentiment and once the kinks are worked out, it will be even more proof that this is how mobile gaming will thrive.

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This sounds fantastic for consumers, but I do wonder if big companies will steer clear with new games as they'll prefer people to fork out the full price. It's a good model idea, though, and if it takes off, publishers' hands will be forced on the matter.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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I honestly wouldn't mind, if it does do well, seeing them start to publish specifically for the GameStore. I'm sure the logistics would be tough to work out though, since it would require them to publish to Android without it being available on the Play store.

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