2K Games has announced that the original Bioshock is coming to iOS devices and will deliver “the complete experience of the original” game, which launched on Xbox 360 and PC in 2007, and on PS3 in 2008.
Games like Knights of the Old Republic, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and several of Square Enix’s back catalog have tried to make it on mobile markets, specifically iOS, with mixed results. Turn based games, particularly tactics style strategy titles like XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics transition well to touch screens but anything requiring fluid movement usually bites.
That’s why its a huge surprise that BioShock has been announced for iOS platforms in a month or so. It doesn’t have a solid release date yet, but the award winning first person shooter praised for its graphical fidelity filled with tiny details thrown throughout the world is the last thing anyone expected to hit a mobile marketplace. Just give Marathon or Dural a shot on iOS to see how painful it is to control a first person shooter with a touchscreen. Few are holding out hope that this port will awe players to the splendor of rapture with any kind of fluid water or lighting mechanics found on the consoles or on PC.
So who’s going to buy this? The intended market is also unclear. If you’ve already visited the dystopian city under the sea then there’s little reason to revisit the experience even if you can carry it around in your pocket, and you’ll likely be disappointed by the significant downgrade the game has gone through. Consumers that usually stick to mobile markets seem to gravitate towards freemium crap, or at the very most they’ll throw a few dollars at a game but price points between ten and thirty bucks tend to dissuade the casual mobile gaming market from taking a second look. Plus who would want someone to first experience BioShock in such an underwhelming way?
This isn’t the best way to mature the mobile gaming market. Sure, they’ve promised Bluetooth controller support which is a huge plus, but what mobile gaming community needs are solid titles that actually play up the advantages of the hardware. A game like Bioshock has the potential to showcase all of its shortcomings of the mobile platform.
Maybe some more XCOM, a proper Civilization port, or maybe even an RTS would do a lot more to legitimize the market, but for now this is what we are stuck with. Let’s hope that if it fails to bring in the dough major developers won’t just throw their hands in the air and abandon the mobile realm all together.