Will mobile multiplayer gaming ever take off?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: March 2, 2011

While there are still games out there that are fun to play by yourself, especially when it comes to video games where the developers focus more on the story rather than multiplayer aspects, more most the main draw is being able to jump online and play with your friends (or complete strangers). This is definitely true when it comes to console games. But when I look at gaming on a mobile platform, like that of the iPhone or Android-based handsets, I just don’t see the same desire to want to play with friends. And it has me wondering if multiplayer mobile gaming will ever really take off.

I think, truthfully, there are a few aspects that may be diminishing the idea, if not the execution of multiplayer gaming on a mobile platform. First and foremost, there are a lot of games out there that don’t support playing with your friends over WiFi. You have to be connected via Bluetooth, and that means you have to be near your friend. That’s not always possible, so right there the multiplayer option really isn’t an option.

And then there are options like Open Feint and Apple’s Game Center. These are meant to give you a friend’s list, as well as “achievements” that you can win for doing certain things while in a game. This will also give you a leaderboard. And while leaderboards are great, it’s not really a multiplayer game if you’re just trying to beat your friend’s high score. These two services do great for making gaming more social, but not really adding to the multiplayer aspect.

For me personally, while playing a multiplayer game on an iPhone or Android-powered device may be cool for a little bit, I don’t think I’d do it all that often. Or even want to. I love playing with my friends on services like Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network, but that’s also because I like talking to them while we’re playing our favorite games. For the mobile platform, it’s a pretty limited endeavor, and that may be why playing a game, even when it’s something as popular as Angry Birds or Infinity Blade, may just be a single-player only adventure.

We know that Windows Phone 7 is trying to make multiplayer gaming a reality, especially with the ability to play from your phone against people on a PC. And then there’s Sony Ericsson and their PlayStation Phone, the Xperia Play. With PlayStation games available to play, finding a multiplayer title shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

Despite the fact there are some multiplayer games out there, do you think that multiplayer gaming on a mobile platform will ever really pick up in adoption? Is playing with your friends something you’d like to do on your phone? Or are mobile games meant to just pass the time here and there, until your next meeting, class, or other important date? Let me know in the comments below.