Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Future Of Boardgaming?

Recently, I've been increasingly intrigued by the boardgaming apps introduced at the Apple App store for iDevices (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch). I'm typically cautious about the paid apps I acquire since expenditure while initially small can snowball easily.

I read a couple of reviews of the various game implementations on the Geek and other sites and finally took the plunge on 3: Neuroshima Hex!, Samurai and Carcassonne. What's interesting is that these are not the typical kind of Euros that appeal to me. I've never played NS Hex and Samurai though they were once on my watchlist. I figured they seem too abstract for my tastes after some initial research. I have played Carcassonne previously but didn't care enough for it to desire a physical copy of my own - tad light for my tastes.

So why did I buy them for my iPhone?

1. Comparatively low prices - While the games don't appeal enough to me to own a physical copy of them but their prices as software were highly attractive. I paid US$2.99 for NS Hex, and US$4.99 each for Samurai and Carcassonne. They are priced significantly lower than their physical counterparts and provide you with opponents when your gaming buddies aren't available, either via AI or online play (NS Hex's online implementation is in the works but promised by the developers). At such prices, it gives me an opportunity to try new games (in the case of Samurai and NS Hex) and own others which I only have a moderate interest in (in the case of Carcassonne). And I must say I enjoyed both new games after trying them out, but yet still not enough to care to own physical copies of them. So this works out perfectly for me.

2. Superb implementation - Of the reviews I've read, these are arguably the 3 best implementations of boardgames in the App Store, with perhaps the exception of Tichu. The numbers of boardgames have been growing with developers jumping on the bandwagon but not all are as well implemented as these. In particular, the online component is especially well designed on Samurai and Carcassonne, allowing for asynchronous play like what you enjoy with Words/Chess With Friends. Samurai even allows you to set a time limit for online games so that the AI will take over the move if the time limit is exceeded.

3. F2F Gaming Over the iPad - This is arguably the main reason that perked my interest in gaming over iDevices. There are tons of free games on the iPhone to keep me entertained when I need fillers throughout the day and I generally don't see the need to pay for such games (with the exception of the upcoming FF Tactics...woohoo!). However, what intrigued me was the possibility of gaming with my friends over the iPad (I don't one yet, but this is probably enough to tip the scale). The portability factor means that by simply lugging around an iPad, I can potentially have a host of games available to game with others on the go - no more worries about finding a large enough table to set up when you are outdoors. It also means I'm able to expand my game collection in a much more affordable way so that I have more options for my indoor gaming sessions too.

4. Price Increase - The 3 games above will all be released as universal apps in future as a free upgrade, optimized for iPad play. Prices will head north when that happens and in some cases double (Carcassonne). Being an early adopter goes easier on my wallet!

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