Why Develop Games For Atom?

So you've heard of the Intel® Atom™ Developer Program. As a game developer you may be wondering, "What’s the opportunity?” or “Why bother developing for Atom, won’t many of the same casual games created for a PC work fine on a Netbook?”

To get answers I think you have to think outside “typical” PC gaming development. The opportunity is in how people use, work, and interact with these devices differently than say a traditional laptop or desktop systems. You don't have to stretch the imagination too far to understand the growth market and new gaming opportunities in the mobile space. Just look at the iPhone. Many of the most successful games on that platform are not your traditional polygon pushing games.

My last post looked at how casual games could be enhanced with “relax” modes; allowing gamers to have stress free casual gaming experiences. Similarly here, the message is good game play is not defined by to hardware specifications. Good games can be derived from the state of mind, tasks, & environment of gamers when using their device. As with the iPhone, Atom based devices are used in unique situations where there are unique gaming opportunities. If you consider how, when, where and why gamers use a companion PC device like a Netbook you can find new market opportunities for gaming.

Here’s my list of things developers should consider when creating new Atom based games:

    • Quick and convenient game play:

      Zen Bound is a beautifully simplistic game for the iPhone that exploits how that device is used

      Your Atom based device is likely traveling with you, and the user will consider playing a game when they have downtime between other activities while on the road. This doesn't mean games need to be short but they should accommodate gamers jumping in and out quickly

    • Location aware:
      Because the gamer will be mobile, location aware features in games can add another dimension to games. There's a lot going on with augmented reality these days, and clever games can make use of locations and environments that mix with the game play to make interesting gaming experiences

    • Focused tasked:
      Smaller screen sizes, can also lend to more focused tasks in games. Consider UI designs that are minimalized & focused over providing a swiss army knife of tools and tasks. Often focused game play can lead to stunning graphics and great gaming experiences. A great example of this is Zen Bound for the iPhone.

    • Social play:
      Mobile computing devices are becoming popular because they allow you to easily stay connected with your network of friends. Beyond multi-user play, consider how to involve sharing and status updates with integration of email, Twitter & Facebook

    • Asynchronous online play:
      With mobility being more connected, it may not mean always connected. Consider games that allow you play immediately then connect with the network between levels or games.

Additionally more than just creating new games, developing games for Atom provides these additional opportunities.

Mobile mini games could allow you to customize aspects of your PC games such as upgrading & modding vehicles, characters, & weapons

    • Companion mini games of existing game titles:
      Often the same software will run your PC as will run on a gamer’s Intel based portable device. Consider levels, mini games, tasks, puzzles and vehicle configuration tools that a gamer can take on the road with them, then upload a status of their portable play to their PC game for experience points, level ups, weapons etc

    • Component development:
      With Atom Developer Program, you can develop and sell game components for other developers to use. Many of the above items can be consider areas of component development. As well there will be many flavors in the hardware, some with multi-touch, some with webcams, etc. All opportunities to create components that will be valuable for developers

I’m sure there is much more to consider than my short list, especially when you look at various hardware options, but the point is we have an exciting time in front of us. If we focus on how people uniquely use Atom based devices we can find new opportunities to; create new exciting gaming experiences, extend the value of existing titles, and create gaming components that enable a marketplace of cool new game.

In other words Bring It!

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