With Christmas coming up I decided to allow myself one new shiny piece of electronic equipment (Christmas is the one where people buy themselves expensive electronics, right?) Luckily for me – and probably not entirely coincidental to the time of year – the providers of such shiny electronic delights all seem to have released new boxes for me to consider.
We now have both the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One out there in wild – I’ve been hearing about these things for such a long time that it seems strange that they now exist as actual physical lumps of plastic that I could go out and pick up from Argos (limited supply thing notwithstanding).
However this year I have, much to the disgust of my 15-year-old self, forgone the acquisition of a chunky new piece of dedicated videogame hardware and instead picked up Apple’s new iPad mini. If you’d told me this would be the case a couple of years ago I’d probably have laughed, or sent you some lightly offensive tweets at least.
Now I can half-justify the iPad purchase as work-related – the image of me hogging the wifi in some boutique cafe, sipping a hand-crafted latte and editing novel drafts on my shiny glass rectangle like the trendiest bastard alive was a powerful draw, I’ll give you that. But really it was the games that swung my purchasing decision.
For the last few years I’ve been happily ignorant of mobile gaming – I’d enjoyed Angry Birds on other people’s phones, frowned at Candy Crush’s business model, and more or less written the whole scene off as something that’s not really for me.
But recently I’ve been seeing more and more games that look like something I really want to play, and they’re available only on iOS. Publications like Edge and Kill Screen are now regularly showcasing mobile games that appeal to me more than the next Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty do. ‘Damn,’ I’d mutter into my hip latte every time this happened, ‘I’m going to end up buying one of these things, aren’t I?’
I wanted to play Device 6. I wanted to play Year Walk. Hell, anything by Simogo; those guys are some of the most creative people in games right now. I wanted to play Vlambeer‘s Ridiculous Fishing, mostly because of Tim Rogers’ wonderful review of that game. I wanted to play PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies 2. I want to play Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon on every device capable of playing Super Hexagon.
In short, I was starting to feel like I was genuinely missing out on some great gaming experiences by not owning an iOS device, which is not something I can say about either of the new consoles right now. I’ve written about my current apathy for big-budget gaming, which doesn’t have to do with the games themselves so much as the number of them I’ve been playing over the last few years. There’s just nothing on console right now, old-gen or new, that makes me feel like I’d be truly missing out if I don’t play it.
Which isn’t to say this won’t change, of course, and it’s largely inconceivable that I won’t end up owning at least one of the new consoles in a couple of years time. But for now iOS just seems like the better gaming platform to me – mine through several metric tons of shovelware on the App Store and you find people putting out work of a variety and quality not matched anywhere outside of the PC indie scene right now.
And the consoles will get there, certainly – in fact the one thing that most excites me about PS4 is how easy it seems to be for indie developers to get their games on the system. The idea of playing currently PC-only titles like Outlast and Amnesia on console with that lovely new controller is what makes me really interested in picking up a new videogame telly box.
But right now I’m perfectly happy to let the new consoles find their feet and build up their libraries and features without me, and in the meantime I’m going to enjoy mining the rich vein of quality titles available on my new iPad. To that end, if anyone knows of an iPad game that simply must be played, let me know. I’m downloading all of these suckers right now.
Plus, importantly, I imagine people would frown at me if I tried to set up a PS4 at the local trendy cafe, and I wouldn’t look nearly as cool.