Multi-Player Mobile Gaming – Your Turn!

Mark Stephens

Do you wish that you could play Monkeybin’s Jumpship Thrust Control game as a multiplayer mobile game?

Don’t tell me you’re still playing Angry Birds instead! Well, even if that’s the case, you have to queue up and take turns on the same device: it doesn’t have a true multiplayer set up yet.

One of the buzz subjects out there amongst gamers is multi-player mobile gaming. Gamers are competitive little monkeys by nature and they are used to testing their talents and best scores against other tribes of monkeys!

They have had to sacrifice that little pleasure for the freedom of gaming on their smartphone in the past, but is that about to change?

Here we look at where we stand currently with multi-player mobile gaming.

Challenges of Multi-Player Gaming on Mobiles

It’s no mean feat to crack all of the problems associated with multi-player games on mobiles.

Firstly, unlike fixed networks like PCs, there is no static IP address assigned so it’s more difficult for these devices to talk to each other unless they are nearby and connected via Bluetooth or Ethernet.

This means that, more often than not, only gamers using devices in the same locality can “talk” to each other and play true interactive multi-player games.

This is not quite what online gamers are used to – they want to compare their talents with someone sitting in the middle of Death Valley or at a sub-station in Antarctica, not with the fool next door!

In addition to the network issues, there is the fact that more disconnections happen from handheld devices and the actual handsets themselves have energy constraints – battery levels may be low.

As well as these issues, game developers have to implement real multiplayer games algorithms and server side logic, as well as creating the hardware backbone and making everything scalable and maintain-able.

Making Strides Towards Multi-Player Games

mobileSome strides are being made in this area. Microsoft launched “Switchboard” a couple of months ago; this is a cloud service designed to let smartphones talk to each other for multi-player gaming.

What that does is to work as a “matchmaker” finding potential game-players and matching them to a group that’s best for their phone and network connection. It pings their phones to determine latency and then chooses the most appropriate players based on the results.

More recently Skiller, the social mobile gaming platform provider, introduced a multiplayer platform aimed at creating a social gaming experience.

They have managed to overcome some of the technological challenges by partnering with global networks to enable multiplayer gaming over 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Skiller’s platform can be used on feature phones as well as smartphones, so it is among the first of the true cross-platform gaming services.

Benefits of Multi-Player Games

The benefits to the mobile gamer are clear – it’s more fun and more of a challenge!

The benefits to developers’ bottom lines are less clear, but the theory goes that by encouraging gamers to socialize with their gaming, it creates more desire to play and that can lead to extra revenue opportunities.

It seems that we’re not quite there yet with multiplayer mobile gaming but we’re heading down that path. Watch this space as more news comes along.

One of the topics we will feature regularly in these blog posts is what mobile gamers are crying out for; what are the latest topics on gamers’ wish lists? Where is mobile gaming going? We hope that we have answered a few of your questions above.