One of the most anticipated games this year for mobile, and mainly all video game platforms, was Mortal Kombat X. While the game was supposed to be released around the same time as the iOS version, the Android version ended up being weeks late over every other platform the game was released on. We may never know the real reason this happened but now that the game has been out for roughly a week or so globally, everyone has had a chance to play it. What could have ended up as a barrier breaking fantastic game actually ended up being a decent game when you need to kill some time.
A lot of people liken Mortal Kombat X to a re-skinned version of Injustice for mobile and that is a fair comparison in some ways. While other companies look to break barriers by making more PC/Console style games for mobile, Mortal Kombat X went a much more safe route. Developers seem to not look at mobile gaming as a viable platform for certain genres and unfortunately the mobile gamers of the world suffer for that. Before continuing, I do have to say that this isn’t an official review of Mortal Kombat X, albeit that is on the way. I am also a massive Mortal Kombat fan and have been since the original game’s release. This is more of an opinion piece as to how the potential of Mortal Kombat X for mobile was missed.
SNK Playmore is a good example to use. They have ported over their King of Fighters franchise which is a head-to-head brawler and it has done well for itself. There are others in this genre available as well but not to the level of Mortal Kombat X. What should have been a barrier breaking brawler ended up as a tap fest with the occasional swipe mechanic thrown in there. If other companies can bring their brawlers to mobile with pretty much full controls, then NetherRealms should have done so with Mortal Kombat X. If they had done that, even with the delay that happened for Android gamers, it would have been a massive success.
We are not sure what the reasoning is behind why MKX went the route it did for mobile. Maybe it was underestimating the desire of mobile gamers who would pay for a true brawler with proper controls. Maybe it was underestimating how many mobile gamers also use controllers, although even without controllers brawlers have done well with actual controls on touchscreens. Maybe it was the knowledge that the thought of milking the free-to-play system with IAPs would bring in more cash for them. Whatever the case may be, it wasn’t because the developers didn’t think the devices could handle it. The visuals for Mortal Kombat X are incredible and yet any newer device can easily handle rendering them while keeping smooth gameplay available.
It is as though all the forward-thinking went into the game for console and PC, with the mobile version almost being an afterthought in some ways. While the game is fun to a degree, after awhile it is more of a grind than an actual game in a lot of ways. This game could have set a standard for future brawler to attempt to meet or surpass if it had been a proper brawler. What hurts Mortal Kombat X even more is that after the big delay for the Android release, it is still having problems with functionality.
Developers, whether they are big multi-million dollar companies or indies, need to realize that milking a trend, or being a follower of a trend, isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it is worth taking that jump, taking that risk, and going where others have not. Sometimes it works out a lot better and, in this case, if Mortal Kombat X for mobile had been closer to the console/PC version, it would have been a much bigger success. It’s still a success as it is but why not be know as the company who broke a barrier, brought mobile gamers what they wanted, and been even more of a success?
Vainglory MOBA Map
Of course some people will say just buy the console or PC version if you want that type of gameplay. If other developers can bring proper brawlers to mobile, MKX should have been one as well, so we can play the real game while out and about. We can’t lug around a PS4 or Xbox One everywhere we go. There is a huge push right now to bring proper MOBA gameplay to mobile, there should be the same for brawlers.
Android gaming, and mobile gaming in general, has progressed a lot further than a lot of people realize. A lot of developers need to catch up and pay attention to what’s going on in the mobile gaming scene a lot more then they are doing. Mortal Kombat X for mobile, in its current form, would have been considered groundbreaking for mobile a year and a half ago. Now, it is just a decent game to kill some time with.