Dark Souls as a Mobile Game


Mobile games are here to stay, and they’re big business the world over.  It’s a new market that’s rapidly expanding, and publishers are racing to stake a claim in this new frontier.  It’s easy to see the similarities between mobile games and their console brethren.  There’s a lot of pressure on console game publishers to control as much of that space as possible since it (at least in part) eats away at their console gaming market share.  Console gamers also feel that pressure, at least indirectly, when publishers try to bring them along for the ride.  And, it can often be the case, that these games are cynical cash-ins on core gaming audiences.  You don’t have to look any further than to Square-Enix and the Final Fantasy brand.  In some instances, ports of existing games have been effective.  But then there are examples like Final Fantasy: All The Bravest.

On the other side of the spectrum, you see a game like Dark Souls, which holds the continuing respect of many core gamers as an example of a modern game that captures the essence of a core, console gaming experience.  It’s not hard to believe that Namco Bandai sees the brand’s popularity as an opportunity to capture a part of the mobile gaming market.  Digital Spy recently interviewed the publisher’s director of global strategy, Alex Adjaj, and covered just this topic.

We’d like to bring Dark Souls to mobile, but it’s very difficult because the guys at From Software are very much console oriented. … To change their mind about it, it takes quite a while. … But definitely it’s something we could bring to mobile in a very successful way.

Read more of the interview here.  To take the interview at face value, you’d have to assume From Software is being a bit stubborn in not being flexible in how to design their games.  They are narrowly focused on being “console oriented” and that makes sense when you’re approaching this from a business standpoint.  Adjaj makes it clear that Namco Bandai needs to make inroads in the mobile gaming market since it has the largest install base in the world.  And Namco Bandai has a chance to enlist the support of the Dark Souls franchise’s fans to help them to that end.  From Software is right to be wary of a mobile entry in the Souls series this.

The leads on Dark Souls are saying we don’t want to do mobile because the controls would have to be changed, and therefore it won’t be Dark Souls anymore.

I think there is a need to redesign the way you reroll in the game to make it a bit more casual, so with shorter sessions.

Now, I don’t have any problem with casual games, or mobile games.  What strikes me about the assessment of Dark Souls’ value on a mobile platform is to the degree by which the experience must be compromised.  Adjaj points out that developers don’t want to compromise on controls, but there are many other fundamental changes that would need to be made with the game’s formula.  While console games and mobile games are both fully digital experiences, the difference between the two platforms can be more like the difference between console games and board games.  They fundamentally interface with user in differing ways.  From is absolutely correct to think that the experience would cease to be Dark Souls on a mobile platform.  It would make more sense to come up with an entirely new game that carries a similar spirit as the franchise, but better suited to the needs and expectations of the mobile gaming market.

I’m sure that Alex Adjaj has a great deal of respect for the development team, but I think it says a lot when a publisher is trying to secure a brand for use in the mobile gaming market rather securing the talent behind a franchise to come up with a gaming experience that’s unique on that platform.  It also comes across like Namco Bandai is seeking From Software’s blessing to utilize fans of the franchise.  In any case, I’m happy see Dark Souls firmly planted in console landscape, and not suffering the same fate as Final Fantasy with games like All The Bravest.

PROTIP: The PC edition of Dark Souls is available for $5.99 right now during the Steam Holiday sale.

4 Responses to “Dark Souls as a Mobile Game”

  1. December 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

    dark souls on mobile? hell no… I can picture it now, level up for 1,000,000 souls or simply pay $1.99….

  2. December 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    What platform is Dark souls on?

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