The road to better Android games will have to leave some phones behind

The road to better Android games will have to leave some phones behind

Nintendo Switch Lite next to phoneSource: Russell Holly / Android Central

Feral Interactive is bringing the XCOM 2 Collection to Android soon, and that’s pretty awesome. I hope it turns out to be one of the best Android games and is just as fun as I remembered it to be. But, unfortunately, it also highlights a couple of potential pain points for developers who want to release great console-quality games, like XCOM2 for Android: It’s hard to make money, and many Android devices just aren’t capable.

I have no idea if Feral’s decision to bring the collection to Android will be profitable (though I have seen plenty of moaning over the $25 price). Still, I know the way the company is weeding out the devices that can’t run the game is the right thing to do and the right way to do it.

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These are the Android devices Feral will officially support, but that’s not the whole picture. This is a list of devices the developers have actually tested the XCOM2 Collection on, and they are satisfied with the results. Other devices will be able to download the game, and it might play just fine. But devices that do not meet a bare minimum when it comes to hardware just won’t be able to download the game at all.

Plenty of phones not listed will probably work just fine, and plenty of others won’t. A phone like the RedMagic 6 Pro isn’t going to have any issues if the OnePlus 6T or Galaxy S9 (or even the Galaxy S21) is able to handle it. A phone like the Galaxy M51 and its Snapdragon 730 is not going to be able to run it.

The real question is in the higher end of mid-range devices that companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Google like to build. We won’t know until it launches if phones like the Galaxy A71 or Google Pixel 5 can play XCOM2. That’s kind of a bummer, but I like the way Feral is doing all of this, and I especially like that the company didn’t try to change the game so slower devices can play it. Playing XCOM2 would suck if it was dumbed down and gutted so more phones could play it, and I wouldn’t want to spend $25 on it.

Evan Kubes, president of Rumble Gaming, had this to say when Android Central asked him about the risk versus reward strategy of Feral’s decisions:

In my opinion, this is not a risk but rather illustrates the natural progression of tech and business. Pragmatically, tech companies have always made software updates and product developments that were/are incompatible with previous generations. This isn’t really any different than how a PS2 game can’t be played on a PS1. Mobile gaming is the fastest-growing segment in the gaming space. I believe casual gamers and enthusiasts will always look to better performance as an incentive to upgrade their devices.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s fine to expect the company that made your phone to keep it updated and secure throughout the entirety of its useful lifespan (by the way, that’s longer than 3 years, Google) but if newer features can’t be added it’s understandable. On the other hand, wanting Feral to get XCOM2 running on older or slower phones is sort of like asking Google to add high screen-refresh support to the Pixel 4a. In both cases, the hardware just doesn’t support it.

XCOM2 developed for lower-spec devices probably wouldn’t be worth $25.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Remember those NVIDIA Tegra-only games back in the day? The NVIDIA version of Riptide GP was pretty cool and a helluva lot better than the non-NVIDIA version. It was also really unpopular because there were more people without an NVIDIA Tegra device than with one. Moves like Feral limiting the release of XCOM2 to only “premium” devices may prove just as unpopular, but it is necessary.

All hope is not lost, though, because Cloud gaming really is a thing. If you have a phone that can’t play XCOM2, there’s a good chance it can install something like Stadia or Microsoft Game Pass, and you’ll still have a choice of great games to play.



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