Evolve(d) Companion Apps
Greg Johnson / Feb 16th, 2015 No Comments
Companion apps are slowly becoming an expectation of big releases. Some developers have created companion apps that enhance gameplay while not being necessary to play. Other apps have been necessary to experience huge chunks of gameplay, forcing players to download a mobile app in order to get full value for a game they paid for.
While most of the companion apps are free, there are many questions going forward. Should gamers be forced to play companion apps? What does the future hold for these apps?
Enhance, Click, Click, Enhance
Evolve holds well on its own, but its companion app, Evolve: Monster Quest, allows players stuck on at work or away from their consoles to progress characters without going through hours and hours of gameplay.
The app is a match 3-style game similar to Bejeweled. Players must match specific icons to determine which of their four hunters will attack. Special abilities are also implemented as gamers wade through a multitude of environments in hunt of monsters. Points accumulated while playing the app can then be spent to progress characters in the main game. This ability to play Evolve while not actually being able to play Evolve is a bit of fan-service. Those without limitless free time can still feel on an even playing field by unlocking and upgrading characters easily through the companion app.
Destiny also has a companion app, but it has not been well received. The game itself has taken its share of flack, but the companion app has bothered many for the story it stole from the main game. The app allows players to view a what’s happening at The Tower (the game’s hub), but doesn’t really let them interact with any of it. This lack of interaction is a slap in the face to those who are not at home able to play the game.
The app is free, making up for some of its inevitable shortcomings, but Bungie forces players to use the app in order to view data recovered from dead ghosts. Instead of allowing players to simply view the story revealed through dead ghosts, the companion app must be used to unveil these story elements. Logging into the app is not a major hassle, but the fact that game content is sequestered outside the game itself leaves a bad taste in players’ mouths.
True Blue Companionship
Companion apps are a relatively new part of the game industry, but developers are finding a balance in ways to use them. In order for these apps to be integrated into the mainstream, they must be free. Additionally, making use of the optional app simultaneous with playing the full game is far less appealing than being able to play a simple version of the game on the go.
The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare companion app allowed players to access clan-chat and earn in-game items. This keeps players interested but not dependent upon the app, striking a chord with gamers by offering out-of-game interaction.
On the flip side, the Assassin’s Creed Unity companion app was required in order to play significant portions of the game. This forced interaction deterred many players who already felt heavily invested in the game merely by buying it.
Companion apps walk a fine line between being compliments and supplements to a full game. The future of these apps will be reliant on how developers use them. Companion apps that reward players rather than forcing them into being used could have a major impact on gaming going forward.
tags: Assassin's Creed Unity , Call of Duty Advanced Warfare , destiny , Evolve , mobile , opinion