One of the big arguments in the mobile games industry is the utility of third party brands for mobile games, and whether they are a benefit or a hindrance. I?m not passionate about the issue either way, but I do think that brands can provide the chance for an innovative game, and I?m disappointed when that doesn?t happen. The latest occurrence of this (and what I will use as an example) is the recent launch of Cyberpunk: Arasaka?s Plot. As well as a style of fiction cyberpunk was the name of a popular role playing game a decade or so ago based on the concept of underground subcultures getting their hands on some seriously high tech and modifying their bodies with it. The real attraction of cyberpunk was this ability to create a character which was part cyborg? and of course interact as that character with the other people you played with.
From what I can tell the mobile version of the game has taken the background culture of the game (that of a world run by corporations) and done a good job of creating the tech noir atmosphere, but the style of the game is a straight 2D scrolling action format. There?s no sense of the role playing aspect (which admittedly would be difficult, but mobiles are a social medium after all?surely something could be done) and there?s no mention of being able to modify the character with cybernetic add-ons. In order to make the best use of the brand the game should at least allow people to modify the character initially and then buy upgrades as each level/mission is completed. The brand has been used to supply a good background plot and appearance to the game, but the actual game closely resembles most other mobile action games. So the real purpose of the brand?
ContentSutra picked up on this quote from Salil Bhargava, CEO of Jump Games: ?Celebrities have a longer shelf life of 2-3 months for mobile games as compared to a shelf life of 2-3 weeks for an unbranded game?. So do I care? For celebrity brands, not really. For literature brands, yes. The problem is that when these brands are used blandly it means that other companies are prevented from using it for something more innovative. It also means that when companies do try something innovative with a new style of game play, they will find it harder to sell because the brand that will attract customers to that style of gameplay has been taken. People who buy games based on their favorite brands are also more likely to spend time learning how to play them, and then pass that knowledge on to other people.
I don?t want to pick on Lemonquest because they?re certainly not the only company that does this, and from what I saw of the demo Cyberpunk is a pretty good game for what it is. It?s a good brand that probably has good marketing value in a good demographic, so kudos to them for picking it up?I hope it does well. I also hope they bring out another game that makes use of the unique aspects of the brand in a way that could truly bring something new to the mobile game space.