First-person shooter Titanfall made a big impact when it stomped on to PC and Xbox consoles in 2014. Now the game is squeezing its giant mechanised armoured transports down for smartphone and tablet screens.
Its developer Respawn Entertainment has struck a deal with free-to-play games firm Nexon that will see both investing in mobile developer Particle City, which will be creating several mobile games based on Titanfall.
The first will be released for Android and iOS devices in 2016, and judging from comments made by Respawn boss Vince Zampella, it will adopt the freemium model that has come to dominate the app stores.
“Nexon’s unrivalled publishing network and free-to-play expertise will allow Titanfall to reach new global audiences,” said Zampella as he announced the new series of games.
The franchise isn’t travelling far from home in its new mobile incarnations: Zampella co-founded Particle City earlier in 2015, and the studio is based at Respawn’s offices in Los Angeles.
The company is recruiting, including for a senior designer whose responsibilities will include “Player vs Player (PVP) gameplay, social, guilds, scripting, multiplayer and economy”, as well as “the design and balancing of mobile game free-to-play economy and systems such as level progression, rewards, crafting, gacha fusion, item costs, weapons, skill/powers effects”.
“With Particle City, we are closely collaborating to create all-new standalone games with original gameplay experiences that expand the Titanfall universe to players everywhere,” said Zampella.
On its release, Titanfall’s evolution of the FPS genre by adding giant “titan mech” vehicles to battle with was praised by critics. “A bombastic treat, a hulking armoured paeon to Japanese mech anime like Gundam and Macross in the form of an incendiary first-person shooter,” as the Guardian put it at the time.
Can a game that made so much of scale translate to smaller screens? Titanfall certainly is not the first graphically-rich shooter to make the leap.
Microsoft has launched spinoff games Halo: Spartan Strike and Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows Phone and iOS devices; there have been several Call of Duty mobile games in recent years; and even BioShock was released for iOS – although it has since been removed from the App Store after a compatibility issue with Apple’s iOS 8.4 software.
Fans of Titanfall may be less concerned about how its mobile games look, and more about how their system of in-app purchases will work. Some players of console games like Titanfall are among the fiercest critics of freemium mobile gaming.
For Respawn Entertainment, though, going mobile and free-to-play could bring its Titanfall world to a new audience of millions or even tens of millions of people who do not play games on a console or PC.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Thursday 29th October 2015 11.30 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010