Mobile Feed

Williams Pinball: Vol. 6 Coming To Pinball FX3

Williams Pinball Volume 6Zen Studios has gone quiet over the past few months when it comes to new pinball table announcements for Pinball FX3, but the company is back on track with the upcoming Williams Pinball: Volume 6 which includes three more classic Williams tables coming to the usual platforms Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows 10, and Steam. Mobile users can play through the Williams Pinball app on iOS and Google Play.  This pack includes 1990's infamous FunHouse (with Rudy!),  1987's Space Station, and 1990's Dr. Dude and His Excellent Ray.  There's no announced release date yet, but the tables will include the usual FX3 features including challenge modes and leaderboards.  You know, the usual.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.  Check out the trailer.


Power Button - Episode 309: Not-E3 2020 Roundup

Power ButtonIn a normal year would have just come off of a June full of E3 announcements and news, but this is no ordinary year.  News has still come in bits and pieces though, so as we leave this Not-E3 behind, it's time to take an hour and discuss some of that news.  We have Min Min arriving in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo backing away from the mobile gaming world, Crash Bandicoot 4 on the way, and more.  Join us and escape for a little while.  Apologies for my poor audio quality this week.  Skype decided to be "helpful" and use the ambient room microphone instead of the proper desk microphone. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Nintendo Backs Off From Mobile Gaming

MaxresdefaultNintendo believed it was poised to become a billion dollar force in the mobile gaming app market a few years ago when it announced its first game developed exclusively for mobile hardware, Super Mario Run, but as Takashi Mochizuki at Bloomburg reports today, the company is retreating from that market following a series of lackluster returns and a question of whether its worth continuing to pursue that market now that the Switch is so successful.  As the article points out, Nintendo's mobile projects were announced during the Wii U era when the company needed profitable successes, and with that console never reaching the heights of its predecessor and the handheld Nintendo 3DS approaching its sunset years, the only other option was to strike out into the mobile market.

President Shuntaro Furukawa proclaimed two years ago that smartphone games would be a $1 billion business with growth potential, building on his predecessor’s promise that Nintendo would release two to three mobile titles each year. That spurred hopes among investors that the gaming powerhouse could carve out a substantial slice of the market. In May, however, the president adopted a markedly different tune, saying “We are not necessarily looking to continue releasing many new applications for the mobile market.”

Mobile games are expected to make $77.2 billion this year, which would account for half of the overall video game industry’s sales, according to research from Newzoo. But “since the release of Mario Kart Tour in fall 2019, Nintendo’s mobile pipeline is empty,” said Serkan Toto, a mobile games consultant in Tokyo. “In a sense, Nintendo’s enormous success on console reduced the need and the pressure to put resources into mobile.”

The central problem with Nintendo's mobile games is that to be a highly successful and profitable mobile gaming company, you pretty much have to be a greedy amoral jerk of a company.  The most successful mobile games are bottomless pits of endless microtransactions that are designed to entice players to spend more and more money without really thinking about it.  That way of doing business has never been Nintendo's style.  Super Mario Run required only a one-time ten dollar fee to unlock everything in the game, while other games in the company's mobile realm included microtransactions, they were never as predatory as the other big fish in that pond. 

I bought the full game unlock for Super Mario Run, but I haven't played the game in over a year.  I tried Dr. Mario World, but never paid any money for it and soon quit playing it.  I pay the five dollars a month that it costs for a Mario Kart Tour gold pass which earns me extra bonuses while playing the game, and I feel I get my money's worth out of it as I play multiple races every day.  Yes, there are more expensive packs for sale that offer exclusive drivers and vehicles that are priced for the so-called mobile gaming whales out there, but that little five dollar fee is enough for me.  It would seem that to be profitable enough to be worthwhile, it's not enough for Nintendo.  I'm OK with Nintendo letting mobile go.  Their best work has always been found on their own hardware.


Mobile Mario Kart Tour Enters Beta

Mario Kart TourNintendo's ongoing flirtatious partnership with the mobile gaming space continues with the upcoming Mario Kart Tour for iOS and Android in which the console Mario Kart experience is reformulated for a streamlined experience with microtransactions.  While the company's Super Mario Run released as a one-time purchase and failed to meet sales expectations, follow up titles based on Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem included microtransactional elements and have, so far, lit up sales charts, so I'm not surprised that Mario Kart Tour follows that mold.  The game is in beta for Android starting today and while players are bound by a restriction on posting screenshots of the game, you know that hardly anybody is honoring that.  Ethan Gach at Kotaku has a writeup on how the game plays and how much money it expects you to spend to have a fighting chance at winning.

To unlock additional circuits you collect Grand Stars by completing races and other challenges. Earning stars is also how you unlock gifts, some of which contain green gems, Mario Kart Tour’s premium currency. This is where things start to get weighed down with overlapping in-game currencies. For five gems you get to “pull” on a green pipe that shoots out a new driver, kart, or glider, each of a different rarity. My first pull got me Morton, one of the Bowser minions. Currently the in-game shop, which doesn’t allow you to buy gems yet, is advertising Metal Mario.

I'm interested in trying Mario Kart Tour once it releases, but I don't expect to put any money into it if it's just going to go to lootbox-style random pulls from a bank of items or characters.  I will spend money on mobile games provided that it's a single fee (such as the aforementioned Super Mario Run) and I realize that is a dying if not already dead business model in the mobile space that is increasingly built around monthly subscriptions or slot machine-style payouts of randomly generated items.  That said, I enjoy Star Trek Timelines and have paid a few dollars into its premium currency from time to time to support the development studio, but we're talking more along the lines of four dollars every few months as opposed to the $99 whale package that the game promotes every few days.  I'm sure that Mario Kart Tour's beta period will be used to gauge whether or not the current pricing model used in the game is fair and undoubtedly the marketplace in the release version will be balanced based on player input.  Whenever a mobile game goes into a public beta these days I naturally assume that's really what the developers are testing.  The gameplay is probably pretty well locked in by that point and its the engagement with the in-game store that really needs testing and input.  Mario Kart Tour's shop doesn't sell gems yet for real money, but it's only a matter of time before it does.

(Image via ResetEra)


Xbox Live Coming To iOS And Android

Xbox LiveMicrosoft is showing just how dedicated it is to bringing its services to what have been historically considered rival platforms with the announcement that Xbox Live is coming to iOS and Android.  While you won't be playing Xbox One games on your mobile device just yet, soon you'll find mobile games using the XBL services that run underneath apps to make the magic work.  Here's Tom Warren at The Verge to explain:

Microsoft is bringing its Xbox Live network to iOS and Android devices. The software giant is launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android. Xbox Live features like achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and even some family settings will all be available on iOS and Android.

It’s all part of a bigger push from Microsoft to make its Xbox games and services available across multiple platforms. Game developers will be able to pick and choose parts of Xbox Live to integrate into their games, and it will all be enabled through a single sign-in to a Microsoft Account. Microsoft is using its identity network to support login, privacy, online safety, and child accounts.

I'm reminded of Apple's now-moribund Game Center initiative that basically sat on top of certain iOS games for a while, awarding achievements and tracking leaderboard scores that were quickly gamed and that nobody cared about when all was said and done.  Now, however, considering that Xbox Live has some cachet in the industry and a proven record of providing a variety of useful services, this could be just the kick that mobile gaming needs to take things to the next level.  A wide variety of XBL-like services for mobile games have come and gone over the years, most of them startups jumping on the next big thing and wiping out spectacularly.  Microsoft has the staying power to make this work provided that they actually stick with it.


Power Button - Episode 272: A Farewale To Telltale

Power ButtonAs we spent the week watching Telltale Games crumble into mismanaged dust, it's only right to take an hour to reminisce about the best of times and the worst of times regarding the beloved developer of adventure games.  Sam & Max, Back To The Future, The Walking Dead, Tales From The Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Puzzle Agent, Law & Order, and beyond fill the conversation as we sent the studio off in style.  Special thanks to all of the developers formerly of Telltale who worked so hard to bring us these memories.  You all deserve better than to be unceremoniously dismissed without warning and we know you'll land in better places soon.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 266: E3 2018 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs we do each E3 we have brought in our special E3 correspondent Ross Polly live from the loading dock of the Los Angeles Convention Center for an exclusive discussion about the happenings and events of the week that was in big gaming news and press conferences.  Join us for a super-sized two hour episode of the Power Button podcast in which we run down the highs and lows of the Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square-Enix, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences and digital showcases for conversation about games such as Anthem, Halo Infinite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Fallout 76, Just Cause 4, The Last of Us Part II, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plus so much more.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 261: Catching Up

Power ButtonAfter two months of illness and injuries, Power Button is back on track!  This week Blake Grundman and I spend an hour catching up on some of the noteworthy gaming events that we missed during our time away including our new iPhones, dipping to Batman: The Enemy Within, exploring Kirby Star Allies, and much more.  Join us as we gear up the podcasting machine after hiatus.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Pinball FX3 Goes Back To The Future

Back To The FuturePinball FX3 from Zen Studios launched last week and while I've imported all of my old Zen Pinball 2 tables into the new platform, I've been spending most of my FX3 time with the Back To The Future table out of the Universal Classics Pinball pack of tables.  The team at Zen has given me just about everything I wanted from a BTTF table including multiple time periods.  There are six different versions of this one table available, one for each time period from the film trilogy: 1985, 1955, 2015, Biff Tannen's corrupt 1985A, a revisit of 1955 from the sequel, and 1885.  Soundalikes for Doc Brown and Marty McFly call out memorable lines from the film during play and there are multiple multiballs available if you hit the right targets.  Check out a recent run on the table to see it in action.  I still have a ways to go at improving, but I like to think I'm off to a good start.


Power Button - Episode 245: Off The Ramp With Mel Kirk And Pinball FX3

Power ButtonWe're very excited here at Power Button about the upcoming Pinball FX3 from Zen Studios.  The latest (and possibly final) pinball platform for modern hardware, the new title carries over many of our favorite tables from the Zen Pinball 2 / Pinball FX2 era and will launch with new licensed tables from the Universal vault of beloved properties.  New original tables from Zen are also due out before the end of the year.  It's an exciting time for pinball fans, so it's also a perfect time for us to invite Zen's VP of Publishing, Mel Kirk, back on the show to discuss the new features in FX3, what we can expect from the new tables, when we will get to play FX3 for ourselves, and how the last generation platform of ZP2/FX2 has been sunsetted.  Join us for an hour of conversation that will answer all of your burning pinball questions (seriously; we collected questions from the Twitter crowd and answered all of them).  Want to know about Nintendo Switch availability?  Game of Thrones tables?  Support for PSVR?  We cover it all.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.