Why the Mobile Game Industry Needs Intelligent Revenue Management?

Why the Mobile Game Industry Needs Intelligent Revenue Management

Mobile Game

Around 80% of the application store’s income makes up more than $50 billion in aggregated market value. And it is estimated to go as far as $180 billion by the next year. However, as per several evaluations it has been suggested that game publishers are in dire need to change their strategies to grow, if they wish to survive sufficiently and witness their industry prosper.

Fading Margins

Commercial domain works differently when it comes to game applications for mobile phones. In other industries, similar to telecommunication and the locomotive manufacturing, chances to enhance market benefits have expired.

Ever since marketing has become costly due to its excessive development, preservation too has become an important aspect. Industries are trying to assign third parties for their marketing strategies to bring in more customers and retain the active ones.

Price directories have surpassed expectations and with this many developers present within the business, it has become harder to maintain paid UA with positive net. On the other hand, marketers have devoted themselves to paid users. Even though it has been a successful attempt, it might not last for long.

Consequently, more and more game applications are being created; an estimated amount of 4.3 million games are present on app stores currently and the count is nearer to saturation levels.

Intellectual Revenue Precincts 

Mobile game marketers are required to exceed conventional marketing methods if they intend to keep firm grounds for their businesses. Same level of convolution and cleverness should be implemented that can be used to attract viewers and turn them into active users.

This consists of proficiencies of modern mechanics and artificial intelligence to forecast and deliver the best actions that are adequate for user levels.

Shrewd revenue management platform contains perspective analytics, optimizing personalization systems, and data visualization. When put together, these combinations can improve user engagements, monetization and retention. As for smartphone game publishers this could mean an effective and personalized loyalty programs and worldwide expense optimization.

These features will be optimized within the game data and remain improving as they catch up with the players conduct. It can be customized according to the game’s appearance and composition, enhancing the native player involvement.

Comprehensive Price Optimization

Even the best mobile game developers are required to set aside a budget according to the conversion rates for different countries. However, this methodology does not take several economic factors into account such as GDP, exchange rates and unemployment rates. Followed by costs for smartphones, stats based on operating systems and seasonality.

With the collaboration of a minimal overhead, IAP pricing for each country can be increased and decreased on the basis of transaction frequency.

 The golden age of launching mobile games has come at its highest point, those who devote time and effort in to retaining customers and making the most of profits from users are going to flourish.

Now that you have understood the factors that influence revenue management, here are some hacks to improve mobile games revenue;

Hacks to improve revenue for mobile games

 Due to the tough competition present within the market, developers are facing difficulties as they propel to create games that are lucrative and as far as monetization is concerned, a good timing is everything.

  • Profiting from seasonality:

Mobile phones have become an important part of our lives and they are the first place we seek closure with distraction and separation, especially if we are in movement. It is a fact that mobile games engagement increases during certain months such as summers and holidays, when people aren’t as overwhelmed by responsibilities.

According to different studies, conversion rates increase at 8.3% during the months of June and July, when schools are off. On the other hand, it becomes less costly to attract users during summers; similarly, holidays provide the same openings to boost IAP revenue.

Several data charts show that install to purchase rates are at the peak during January, as people are often gifted new devices on the occasion of Christmas. This concludes that holidays and summers are the most effective months to run personalized IAP possessions. Tactics such as sales, discounts and bundles can be used to make it more eye pleasing.

  • Identifying the prime time:

In the US alone consumers spend at least 24 minutes a day alone playing mobile games. Mobile usage usually peaks between the hours 6.Pm and 10.Pm, this is when people leave work and are preparing to sleep.

 By the help of behavioral data, mobile game developers can understand and aim for specific prime times. And in manner to increase user engagement it is crucial to predict prime time slot as it results in an increase in profit and promotions.

Machine model learning can be implemented to optimize pricing on the basis of behavioral economics, making sure that the best offer is accessible.

  • Greeting the newbies:

First three days are precarious for new users, not only for forming trust but also for influencing IAP revenue. On an average 18% of the revenue generated by applications comes from purchases made during the first days. But there is always a chance that the user might wait for some time before they can whip out their cash for the mobile game.

As per the statistics, only 37% of the users continue to make purchases long after their first one. However, loyalty programs can aid at influencing users to increase conversion rates.

 To capitalize on the first day value, developers can use a number of tactics such as setting an IAP promotion that activates once the user faces a challenging level. Messages can be sent across to the users directly to notify them of purchasing opportunities, ensuring that they don’t miss out on it. Keeping in mind that circumstantial in-app messages are more effective than push notifications. However, the latter can be used to reengage erstwhile player segments.

Conclusion

Build a user’s persona along with undermining their behavioral patterns, this will help you form seasonal promotions, prime time slots and new player engagement strategies for revenue management.

 

About Author: Susan Daigle is a professional writer and she usually covers the game development topics and have also research on it. She also guides some developers on the latest technology of game development.

Suit Up Thieves: 5 Reasons to Check out Persona 5

Persona 5 visual

The Persona series is one of my favorite JRPG franchises to date. Once known as the Shin Megami Tensei series, it still shares the moniker, this spin off iteration has fans at hype level 100. Set to drop on April 4th, 2017 for both the PS3 and PS4 here are 5 reason why players should check out the Persona 5.

It has a Rich History

persona collage
Image caption: http://kotaku.com/four-new-persona-games-are-coming-to-north-america-1530572807

As mentioned above, Persona is an offshoot of the Shin Megami Tensei series. As the 5th installment in the franchise, this game that started out as a dungeon crawler dating/social sim is still delighting fans today. Most fans may have come in with Persona 3 but most know Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden for the Vita. This series has earned it’s stripes and definitely has earned the love of the fans that it has today. Not to mention it has spawned several spin offs in the form of a fighting game, SRPG and rhythm game that are all all canonical so yeah, all the Persona you could ask for.

It’s Not Ashamed To Be Turn Based

Persona 5 Battle
Image caption: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_5

That’s right, this is a reason to be hyped for the game. It has long been stated that turn based combat is outdated and has lost its luster with gamers but Persona proves otherwise. Not only does it have turn based combat but it’s unapologetic about it. The combat is fun and keeps you on your toes even though it’s not a hack and slash fest. All combat types have their place but it’s refreshing to have one of the JRPG staples present in a main stream game again.

The Game is Super Stylish

Persona 5 Protagonist
Image caption: https://atlus.com/persona5/media.html

The art style of the game has only improved with each generation and has made it mark by retaining it’s signature look in each installment. This time around the game almost has a comic book super hero art style along with the signature portraits for each main character. The graphics are ps3 era fare but it’s polished and smooth so even graphics enthusiasts can enjoy it.

The Music is Awesome

The music is so great in the series that it spawned a rhythm game using the Persona 4 soundtrack called Persona 4: Dancing All Night. It doesn’t matter what you are doing in the game there is always a tune to hum in your head. Even if you’re tackling the same content over and over again it never becomes grating on the ears or annoying. The battle music for the game has me excited to bash shadows in the face. This game has a reported 100 or more hours of game play so I’ll probably be very familiar with the soundtrack when its all said and done.

It’s Not Afraid To Tackle Mature Themes

Don’t let the anime style and dating sim fool you. This game is not for children and can appeal to the real life scenarios

If you’re not familiar with the series, Persona has had a tough time being sold in the states. In Persona 3 in order to summon your persona the players simulated suicide by shooting themselves in the head. Yikes. I was intrigued by the dark theme of the game even though there was a dating/social sim connected. In Persona 5, players become a group called the Phantom Thieves with the goal of reforming the corrupted hearts of adults by stealing them. The previous games have discussed survivor guilt, addiction, sexual orientation etc. You name it and it was probably in Persona with more to come. Don’t let the anime style and dating sim fool you. This game is not for children and can appeal to the real life scenarios

Let Persona 5 Take Your Heart

Persona 5 Preorder
Image Caption: https://atlus.com/persona5/home.html

Are you excited for Persona 5? Have you played a Persona game before? Have you played the Japanese version of the game and can attest to it’s awesomeness? Let us know in the comments below before we all disappear on April 4th. You can find more details about the game at the Atlus website.

Beauty & Fashion Used In Video Games

Beauty & Fashion

Beauty & Fashion + Video Games

Beauty & fashion in the gaming world can be so confusing, am I right? Often, we think about our favorite characters, and we try to imagine and see where the illustrator found the inspiration for their main wardrobe piece, as well as bold makeup looks. If you want to know more about their creative way of thinking, drawing, as well as a proper way of incorporating some key elements, here is how beauty & fashion are used in video games! For this purpose, we’re going to take Tomb Raider as example.

Top 3: The Development Of Tomb Raider 

  1. Always Referencing

Tomb Raider

Developers & graphic designers always start off with their skeleton and its foundation, but gradually build other pieces on top. When working with female characters, the choices can be endless. Let’s take Lara Croft as an example. The well-known Tomb Raider leading character has been a must-play for both guys & girls worldwide, thanks to its appealing graphics, as well as exciting gameplay.

Lara Croft is a female British character, known as an archeologist which shows her power & fierceness throughout the entire game. The developers wanted to reference her as a strong individual, so they dressed her up in feminine yet appropriate clothing for cave exploring.

  1. Appealing Presence

Lara Croft

If Lara Croft had been an overweight character with short blonde hair & tattoos, do you think that people would find her as appealing? The developers had to make her universally beautiful with some interesting & unique features, such as her braided hair. So, did you know that the game has been sold over 67 million times thus far? Also, it was recognized by the Guinness World Records and has been described as ”the most successful human video game heroine in 2006’‘ and has even won 6 awards in 2010!

This all may be because of Lara’s gorgeous appearance, and maybe because of an amusing gameplay?

Speaking of amusing gameplays, if you want to know what other games are going to be huge in 2019, check these out Video game in 2019.

  1. Always Developing

Trendy looks of Tomb Raider

Games are always developing, and so are its graphics. For instance, did you know that Tomb Raider began its production in 1993? To this day it’s been re-done over 7 times, and it has always followed specific trends in the gaming as well as in the makeup industry. In the video below, you can see all versions and how they’ve changed over the years. At first, Lara’s weapons weren’t as graphic while today there are loads of different options that you can choose from. Also, appearance wise, her clothes got shorter & tighter, while her facial features got a lot more accentuated with some bold contouring moves, as well as with false lashes. And all of this just to stay up to date with bold & trendy looks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-P-smim5gQ 

Would You Play It As Well?

Since now you know a bit more about Tomb Raider and its development please let us know: would you play it?

Also, are you someone who appreciates old-school and not as graphical developments, or do you love the fact how Lara’s appearance has changed over the years and has been up to date with modern trends? Let us know! Oh also, speaking of trends, if you are thinking about following current Spring runway-inspired makeup looks, this article may help you out with that Makeup trends for Spring 2019.

Stay fashion 😉

You Probably Didn’t Expect to Do This with Your Phone

Phone

Do it with your Phone

It wasn’t so long ago that a telephone was primarily a device used to conduct two-way voice communication. However, a recent Gallop reveals that phone calls now take a backseat to other forms of communication on the smartphone among Millennial users. As you can probably guess, this demographic’s preferred method of communication is via text, email, or video chats.

Though we take it for granted now, no one ever expected that the phone would be used primarily to type out messages on a tiny keyboard with no actual buttons. Think about how crazy that sounds. We can initiate a phone call by literally telling our phone to place a call. Yet we would rather awkwardly tap out messages on a flat screen.

The crazy goes even deeper than that. We don’t even have to type out the message. We can dictate our messages and have them transcribed better than autocorrect can handle our typing. Yet we still prefer to send our messages in the most difficult way available.

So what else are we doing with smartphones today that no one would have guessed 20 years ago? You only need watch a TV show made before 2007 to get a sense of it. You see the characters doing things that make no sense in the modern smartphone era. Here are a few more things those scriptwriters never anticipated:

Professional Camera

Even now, it is still hard to believe that some people are using their smartphone as a professional camera. Several years ago, Apple started seeding newly announced iPhones to fashion and sports photographers. Those efforts would appear on magazine covers and inside those magazines as elaborate spreads.

It was all fun and games until a few years ago, when iPhone cameras became so good that mainstream newspapers started replacing the photography staff with iPhone-wielding reporters. iPhones were never intended for that purpose. Even Apple didn’t expect that to happen.

That is why professional photographers rocking the latest plus-sized iPhone are having to use those BodyGuardz iPhone 8 plus cases as a means of protection. What they hold in their hands represents their means to their livelihood. Other companies are also capitalizing on the fact that professionals in challenging conditions are using smartphones in ways that were previously unanticipated.

Entertainment Machine

There are reports that more video is being consumed on smartphones that big screen TVs. The smartphone has not just taken over television viewing, it has become our comprehensive entertainment machine.

When we want to go play with our way-too-expensive drone, we reach for the smartphone to control it. Pretty soon we won’t even be able to build a Lego playset without needing the phone for the augmented reality game associated with it.

Even before the iPhone, music was becoming an important part of the smartphone experience. But today, the primary way people listen to music is the smartphone, not the radio or with compact discs. Gaming consoles are still a big deal. But smartphones have become the #1 gaming platform by far. It is not even close.

When smartphones first hit the scene, they were all about work. They were glorified PDAs that could also make calls. The market was dominated by Palm, Blackberry, Nokia, and Microsoft. But when the general population got their hands on the technology, the primary use went from productivity to entertainment. And those productivity companies are nowhere to be found in the modern space.

Medical Devices

In 2007, no one thought smartphones would be used as credible medical devices. Well, guess what? In some parts of the world, iPhones are being used for skin exams and eye exams. The Apple Watch, an accessory for the iPhone, has already saved lives by spotting abnormal heartbeats.

This fall with the release of iOS 12, the AirPods, when paired with the iPhone, will work as hearing aids for the hearing impaired. No one expected any brand of consumer smartphone to do anything of the kind. Yet medical professionals are finding more uses for smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets than just patient check-in.

You probably didn’t expect that your phone could help you find and meet your life partner through an app. It probably comes as a surprise that you can control almost everything in your home by telling your phone in plain language what it is you want to be done.

Not all that long ago, no one expected the smartphone to become a professional camera, or the everything entertainment machine, or medical devices that can prevent disease and save lives. If you didn’t see that coming in 2007, you’ll be blown away by what’s just around the corner.

Top VPNs for online games

Games are constantly evolving, and today there is a network mode in the vast majority. For this, you just need a stable connection at high speed. However, in multiplayer games, you often have to specify additional information, and this attracts hackers and cybercriminals. That’s why you need a VPN. You will receive a secure and encrypted connection, so that your data will not be endangered in the shared network.

5 best VPNs for games

The choice of VPN depends on what you need: whether you want to play on the network, download games, or simply access applications that have any restrictions. If you are looking for a VPN for games, you should pay attention to such parameters as the price, the number and location of servers, and the availability of a separate DNS server. VPN providers usually use a dedicated gaming server that prevents DDoS attacks, reduces latency, allows you to bypass some locks and increases the overall level of security on the network. Below is a list for you to choose the best VPN client in 2017 with a detailed overview of each of the providers:

NordVPN. $5.75/monthNordVPN

ExpressVPN. $8.32 / month

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN allows you to play without any delay. This is one of the best VPN providers in general, the application works great on any system. With the 256-bit encryption and no registration of user actions, you can be sure that your data is securely protected. Another advantage is 24-hour support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

IPVanish VPN. $6.49 / month

IPVanishIPVanish. You will not find any lags or delays when playing online with this service. The company guarantees high speed, suitable for games. At your service there are more than 500 servers in 60 countries. You are likely to find the server that is right for you. No user actions are recorded; in addition, the data in the network is encrypted.

VyprVPN. $9.95 / month

VyprVPN

VyprVPN is probably the fastest provider for games. Servers in the key zones mean that the provider will be able to redirect traffic and ensure a high connection speed. Also the security and encryption are at your service, which protect against DDoS attacks. Just for 9.95 dollars a month you will have at your disposal about 200,000 IPs on 700 servers in 38 countries!

Trust.Zone. $2.99 / monthTrust.Zone

Other VPN providers are:

BolehVPN. Perhaps this is not the most famous service, but it is also reliable, like the others on our list. The channel is not limited, secure data encryption is at your service. Unfortunately, there is no iPhone application, and the installation is quite complicated. However, the company offers a dedicated server for games like Team Fortress, CS 1.6, Call of Duty and Minecraft.

Iron Socket is one of the most secure VPN providers. 2048- and 4096-bit encryption is available. The provider guarantees high speed and lack of a data log, and that’s what’s important for gamers. There are more than 50 servers in 36 countries at your service.

Mass Effect Andromeda Is Almost Here And Players Can Try It For 10 Hours

Mass Effect Logo

Platform: PS4, Xbox 1, PC

Release Date: March 21st, 2017

In an effort to continue to grab money from gamers, Mass Effect: Andromeda is close to full retail release. In the meantime if you have the PC version pre-ordered and are subscribed to EA Access, you can play the game for 10 hours. Here are some things that we can see by playing the demo.

This is a BioWare Game So Character Customization Is a Thing

Mass Effect Characters
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/people-are-ripping-apart-mass-effect-andromedas-animati-1793334047

Players will get to create a male or female version of their “Ryder” character. Unfortunately though, you can only choose the human race as an avatar. The same was true for the first Mass Effect games but I think players were hoping for something different. Speaking of characters, there has been some coverage about the unnatural movements and mo-cap of the human species in the game. The alien races are fine so that doesn’t surprise me. Don’t be taken back by some of the make up choices for the human women especially.

This is a Completely Different Mass Effect story

Mass Effect Crew
Image Caption: https://www.technobuffalo.com/2017/03/15/heres-mass-effect-andromeda-on-pc-vs-ps4-pro-vs-xbox-one-slim/

It should go without saying but this game is not a continuation of the previous Mass Effect trilogy. Starting with a note from Pathfinder Alec Ryder the game is ready for players to immerse themselves in it’s universe. As you progress through the story and get a feel for Ryder, you will notice that even the main character is different from Shepard. They appear more youthful, inexperienced and have more of a personality than the previous iteration. Shepard is still a great character but this one may be different.

To give a bit of back story, Ryder and the crew wake up after being asleep for centuries on the Ark Hyperion to try and find new planets to inhabit. Unfortunately when you wake up its not all sunshine and roses. Players land on a new planet with hostile everything waiting to kill you as a warm welcome.

There Are A Slew Of New Game Mechanics

Mass Effect Combat
Image Caption: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/standard-edition

This game is still a 3rd person shooter and the controls seem to be smoother than before. There are a few notable changes to gleaned. One is that there is no longer a button mapped to put your character into cover. Ryder will hide and crouch almost automatically when you come near certain things in the environment. Players are no longer trapped into one build which promoted multiple play throughs to try different play styles in the previous games. Instead, players can customize their characters to take different skills from categories in their respective skill trees. One last thing I’ll note is the introduction of the dash mechanic which can change the tactical tide of battle. It does have a slight cool down but it can save you from life of death with the better AI of enemies.

The Online Multiplayer Is More of the Same

Mass Effect Online Play
Image Caption: https://www.masseffect.com/

There is no player versus player mode which is normal for the Mass Effect series. However, if you have played games like Rainbow 6 Siege, when you go into Multiplayer mode you can choose different archetypes for battle. Those characters can also be of a different races so that may be the players only opportunity to play something new. There are also loot boxes to buy with in game currency or money for new weapon mods and new characters. The rest is business as usual with new things to be added after the game is released.

Your Demo Progress Transfers Over and All Upcoming DLC Will be Free

Mass Effect Ark
Image Credit: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/mass-effect-andromeda-trailer-release-date-gameplay/

You read correctly. The demo will save your progress so no time is wasted thank goodness. Bio ware is also doing us a service and will not charge for DLC that most of us probably can’t afford at this point anyway. The DLC schedule hasn’t been released yet but hopefully they will support this game for the long haul.

Are You In?

We only have a week to wait until the games full release and so far the reception appears positive. Have you tried the 10 hour demo and what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Let’s Talk About Playing Games As a Career

Career

Thinking in Playing Games As a Career?

I was minding my business coming home from work when my 10 year old nephew told me he had some news. He informed me that he had started a YouTube channel and he wanted me to check it out. I felt my heart began to race due to this turn of events. Yes, I am well aware that this is the era we live but I didn’t think this is where he would be going. My nephew loves games the way that I love games. I am probably the person who got him into playing games as a hobby. But here he was starting a YouTube channel about Bey Blades and Google Play Games. It was then I knew we had to have “the talk” so I said, ” Let’s talk about playing games as a career”

Playing Games As A Career Is Not That Easy

Twitch Logo
Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Twitch_logo.svg

I did mention my nephew was 10 right? Asking about what he wants to do when he grows up is not a far fetched question. Trying to gauge if that future included playing games as a career needed to be put into perspective for a child so I would attempt it. There have been several articles around lately discussing the issues with choosing to live as a video game personality. One such issue is not knowing when to turn off the camera.

“Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.”

A lot of people underestimate the physical toll that streaming on Twitch or YouTube can take on your psyche. When I was explaining to his mother, my sister, I likened it to working on commission. If you don’t work you don’t get paid so having it as a viable career is daunting.

A lot of full time streamers deal with a myriad of things when starting out. In an article posted via Kotaku mentions “Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.” In the era of fads and videos going “viral” one day off line can derail days and weeks of work. That is not healthy in any respect so boundaries need to be set and kept. This is not something she would be able to shirk off when it came to a kid.

The Price of Living The Streamer Dream

Brian Poshybrid Vigneault
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/in-the-wake-of-marathon-streamers-death-twitch-communi-1792650183

All of this came on the heels of another shake up in the Twitch community. A relatively small streamer named Brian “Poshybrid” Vigneault was conducting a 24 hour charity stream and died after taking a smoke break. This caused a conversation to be had in the streaming community about healthy stream practices. Because let’s be frank, most streamers are not healthy if they play games “all day”. Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom. On a day one release most of us don’t even do that.

Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom.

There are so many different things that go into choosing to stream or make YouTube videos for a living. I follow a lot of content creators on Twitter so there is constant conversation about YouTube algorithms and missing subscribers. Low views mean less money and that is the commission/entertainment lifestyle in a nut shell. It’s become sad to watch YouTubers that I followed for years become cynical, burnt out and jaded from trying to do what they love which is play games.

Bringing It Full Circle

My nephew is bright eyed and bushy tailed. He has no real idea how any of this could potentially work. In the meantime, I am encouraging him to continue to learn about YouTube while finishing his home work. I am working with my sister to help establish rules so that he is safe while exploring playing games for entertainment. It’s starting early folks, but playing games may not be as fun or easy as we all thought it was.

Do you stream content on YouTube or Twitch? Are you a content creator of any kind? What do you think about playing games as a career? Let us know in the comments section below.

Super Mario RPG: The Mario Game Nintendo Forgot

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG

When Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars came out in March of 1996, I was nine years old. Back then, I went to the video store with my parents and literally judged games by their cover. This game had Mario on the box. I was in.

I didn’t know this particular game was very different from the usual platforming, hop-and-bop gameplay you might expect. For one, it was an isometric game. Yet when I loaded up the save file of whoever played the video store cartridge last, the first thing I did was jump on a goomba. When the game screen wiped into a completely different area that had Mario on one side and the goomba on the other, I knew what kind of game this was.

It was like EarthBound.

Mario at Bowser's Castle
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7279025226/

It was another turn-based game with lots of text (even though Mario never spoke a word) and memorable characters. Developed by Squaresoft (before they merged with Enix and became Square-Enix), it had classic Final Fantasy gameplay with a Mario twist. The game had timed hits and timed blocks. Both Princess Toadstool and Bowser could join your team.

As a kid whose first video game ever was Donkey Kong, and first console game ever was the original Super Mario Bros., this game was insane. The graphics were amazing (for their time), and the world of Mario became so much more than just floating platforms and turtle dragons. There were towns. There were regular people, with regular jobs.

This was a Super Mario World I wanted to live in.

I fell in love with characters like Mallow the cloud prince, and Geno the battle-puppet. I still hum the game’s soundtrack to this day. And the timed hits system was so ahead of its time, when games like Legend of Dragoon came out, it was old hat to me.

So how come very few people seem to remember this game?

Mario RPG World
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/10594718535/

Easy answer? Squaresoft broke away from Nintendo to join the Sony squad. The PlayStation was simply the best console for Final Fantasy VII. So while Nintendo may own Mario and his friends, characters like Geno and Mallow belonged to Square.

In short, these characters would never come back in a Nintendo game. Even after Square-Enix patched things up with Nintendo and started doing the Crystal Chronicles thing, Mario RPG was old news. And we all know how much Nintendo hates their old beloved SNES RPGs.

While we might see it on virtual consoles for Nintendo systems, the franchise has effectively been replaced by Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi Superstar games. Which, if you ask me, are vastly inferior.

I will not stop clamoring for Geno and Mallow to become Nintendo regulars. Why can’t I punch Mallow’s fluffy face in Smash Bros? Why can’t I blast tennis balls from Geno’s arm rockets? I want my beloved childhood back. In closing, life is unfair. And so is Nintendo.

Why Players Should Appreciate The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Aloy

The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

I’m an African American woman and seeing a lead protagonist that fits in any of those categories is rare in the video game space. At this point in my life, I’m 30, it’s one of those things that I have come to accept. Note, not okay with, but accept as the norm for the genre.

The targeted demographic for video games is normally white, straight men between the ages of 15 to 30. So imagine my surprise and joy that as more games have come out recently that conversation has begun to change. That is where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in and I would like to take a second to appreciate the strides with diversity taken in the game.

The Lead Protagonist In Horizon Is A Woman

Close up of Aloy
image credit: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/horizon-zero-dawn-ps4/

Aloy, our beautiful red haired wild girl, is the lead protagonist in Horizon. While a lot of games that feature a woman lead tend to focus on her “woman-ness” this game did the exact opposite. It needs to be said more often, but when it comes to diversity people that fit multiple minority groups don’t need it to be explicitly stated in the game or narrative.

Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all.

The fact that Aloy is a woman had literally nothing to do with the story. Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all. I appreciated that the game normalized Aloy being the lead and female without drawing attention to it in the narrative. Kudos Guerrilla for doing this despite Sony’s initial reservations about the choice.

The Population In Horizon Is Diverse

Horizon Nil
Image Credit: https://www.vg247.com/2017/02/22/horizon-zero-dawn-devs-discuss-lack-of-loading-screens-creating-high-quality-facial-animation-in-new-video/

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white. It is rare that I see games take the time to flesh out the world to include other ethnic groups. I’m not going to sit here and say that these companies are racist or other extreme things. But I will say that it is an over sight that has not gone unnoticed.

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white.

It may appear like in the years of “PC” culture and people becoming too “sensitive” that we are being inundated with these complaints. I am here to tell you that in the black community we have had these conversations among ourselves and we have them a lot. I am sure that other groups who feel under represented have done the same. So while it may be new to main stream it isn’t new to the rest of us who have to live with this reality every day.

In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint.

To add further to this point, all of the character models look beautiful. In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint. It’s obvious, it’s lazy and it makes me wish they didn’t bother. That wasn’t the case in Horizon where all of the NPCS Asian, Black, White etc each had a very polished and true to life look. I almost shed a tear when I saw the first black person and their hair. MY GOD THEIR HAIR! Hair, which they almost never get correct, looked as glorious as their skin. Thank you Guerrilla.

The Narrative Doesn’t Fall Into Familiar Stereotypes

Horizon Petra
Image Credit: https://se7en.ws/horizon-zero-dawn-guide-all-main-and-side-quests-where-to-initiate-them-and-how-to-get-the-best-ending/?lang=en

I mentioned it a bit earlier but it needs to be said again. I appreciate that the story did not focus on Aloy being a woman and the issues that women face. There was no talk of her being weaker than a man or even romance options. As a matter of fact I was a bit sad that Aloy didn’t get to choose someone to romance male or female. But that wasn’t the focus of the story to be told here so those aspects did not get any shine. Her sexuality was not on the table at all to the point where any advances made by other characters felt a bit out of place.

Horizon Vlad
image credit: http://n4g.com/news/2021616/horizon-zero-dawn-review-paste-magazine

I also appreciate that there were no separations of the tribes by race. There were things that separated each group to be sure but colorism was not one of them. If you follow the narrative [Spoiler] closely you will find that one of the researchers did a thing to make sure that mistake would not be able to be repeated again. Or at least not repeated in the same way come hell or high water.

It’s all the little thing’s that count with this game so while you might be off having Zelda adventures don’t forget to include Horizon too. Have you explored the world of Horizon? Do you have any thoughts about the diversity in the game? Let us know in the comments below.

EarthBound Inspiration

earthbound

I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that my love of storytelling didn’t come from literature, or even film. Not originally, anyhow. It came from video games.

It bothers me to no end that I have to defend games as a medium. Truthfully, I don’t even like to call them games. I’d sooner call them interactive media or the like, but that just makes me sound like I’m calling porn “adult entertainment.”

I could go on forever about the medium. But I’m here to talk about one game in particular, and how it influenced me growing up.

It was called EarthBound

earthbound screenshot
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14086391369/

A cult RPG on the Super Nintendo about a thirteen-year-old kid in contemporary America (called “Eagleland” in the game) alongside his best friends, saving the world from cosmic horrors. It’s one of the goofiest, trippiest games to come out of Japan at the time, and that’s saying something.

In a time when most RPGs were sword-and-sorcery fantasy, along comes this game where the hero uses yo-yos and baseball bats, orders pizza from payphones to heal, uses the ATM to get money, sleeps in hotels, travels via buses and bicycles, gets homesick, goes backstage of concerts, and fights hippies, taxicabs, pedophiles, ramblin’ mushrooms, wild ducks, possessed tents, and more. All done to a jazzy, ‘60s-’70s Western pop music inspired soundtrack. You can practically sing the Beatles lyrics along with some of the game’s soundtrack.

All this plus themes of courage and friendship and adventure. It was about leaving home and seeing the world–and not your usual fare of dark forests and magic castles, but of suburbia and big cities and wintery private schools and beachside vacation destinations. Ness, the hero, came from a small house in a suburb with his family. He had a baseball cap and a scruffy dog. He was me. And he had best friends that he saw the world with. This was my On the Road in the 1990s.

EarthBound was the first game that I’d played that was so chock-full of text that I might as well have been reading a pile of books

EarthboundScreen2
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14273041415/

It had a quirky, but heartfelt story that I fell in love with. And from then on, I needed my games to draw me in with the story and the setting and the characters–a fact that continues to this day. “Fun” is secondary to aesthetic and narrative. I want art and I want story. Games got me drawing and they got me reading and they inspired me to create my own stories.

When I was in grade, oh, four or five, I did one of those reading evaluation things that teachers give you. They told me I read on a college-grade level. I was a quiet kid who had little use for books, but I read more than most book-lovers. After all, the games I loved were filled with words, back before everything was voice-acted. My reading skills came from games.

And EarthBound was the start

Earthbound Screenshot 3
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14273039595/

It made me want to run away and have adventures. To write screenplays about psychics and mad scientists and aliens invading the suburbs. I wanted to build a house in the woods and listen to the Beatles on the radio all day long. I can think of so many beautiful, iconic moments in this goofy kids’ game that I could make this post go on and on and on.

Ultimately, EarthBound gave my mind a fictional wanderlust. Even though it was a game, it made me appreciate the beauty of the world outside my house. I look at the stars or smell the earth after it rains and I remember this dreamy feeling of wanting to put on my trusty baseball cap, leave home and save the world. Games like EarthBound provided this imaginary escape–the same kind books like Huckleberry Finn would do for readers. It was freedom. And that freedom is why I play games.