Non-accessible mobile phone features, cannot be used in games
A very insightful post by Greg Costikyan about various problems encountered by mobile game designers. Here are some relevant excerpts:
In essence, we've been using mobile phones as inferior GameBoys--and that's apparently enough to build a $1b market, and growing. But while there have been a handful of interesting attempts to do things you can't do on other devices (like Botfighters), we haven't seen many successful games that do something novel and interesting with mobile as a platform. (...) Forget about games for a moment: What makes mobile devices different?
Well, for one thing, they are first and foremost voice communication devices. And they store quite a lot of information about your circle of friends and business contacts, in the phone book
I fully agree with both statement, currently mobile game are often translation of old game or based on the portable console paradigm. Greg advocates for the use of cell phone features to innovate (he cites: voice/audio communication, address book). Therefore he claims that game design could be interestingly based on this 'social affordance', which is pertinent. BUT here is the problem:
Here, however, is the kicker: The technology that, today, allows us to build games for mobile devices, does not allow us to access the other features of mobile handsets. You want to use voice? You can't--a mobile phone can make a voice connection or a data connection, not both at once. You want to access the phone book? You can't--the phone book is its own application, in splendid isolation from any others operating on the handset. You want to access personalization information? No can do. You want to use the network? You're stuck with HTTP (usually) which, together with a G2 network, means you need to plan for 3+ second latency.
His technology is somehow a bit so-so:
In other words, we've now built the technical infrastructure to enable a mobile games market to exist and thrive--but we haven't built the technical infrastructure to allow truly interesting mobile games to exist. And fundamentally, doing that does not mean introducing novel, futuristic technologies like LBS, G3, video communication, or RFID--what it means is exposing technologies that already exist on mobile handsets to mobile applications--and reconfiguring the network side to allow them to be used.