Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers

  • Couch Co-Op: 2 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
Where are All the Co-Op Mobile Games?
Editorial by

Where are All the Co-Op Mobile Games?

Does nobody want them, or are we just too polite to ask?

Scroll through the comments page of just about any single player game on Steam and you'll find messages like the following: "game is ok would be better with co-op". Big, impressive titles with hundreds of hours of gameplay are released on a regular basis, but there's still a legion of players out there that refuse to have fun unless they can romp around with their friends. We could even argue that some of the biggest games of the last five years attained popularity largely because of their co-op features.

As soon as you leave the PC and console markets, though, the co-op cheerleaders disappear. Take a stroll through iOS or Android offerings and you'll find only a few multiplayer or co-op games, and nobody seems to be yelling for more. The situation is almost as bad on 3DS and Vita, making us wonder if portable gaming and co-op are about as compatible as peanut butter and sawdust.

Here's the big question on our minds: are mobile games inherently single player in nature, or has co-op just not caught on yet?

Very Angry Birds

We started our quest with a game that's available on nearly every modern gaming device imaginable: Angry Birds. The series from Rovio began as an iOS game that sold over 12 million copies in the first nine months. It spawned sequels and spin-offs that have made an appearance on PC, browser, console and handheld devices, not to mention a cartoon series and real world plush toys.

While all of those ports were proliferating, the basic gameplay remained the same: pull back on a slingshot, fling a bird across the screen, hit some pigs. Angry Birds Star Wars was released as a mobile game, and soon afterwards it worked its way to consoles. This new "reworked" version sported a feature none of the mobile releases had: multiplayer. Not just multiplayer, but both competitive and co-op modes for up to four players. It was a pretty basic feature, little more than people taking turns flinging things, but it was a departure from the mobile versions that showed that even Rovio knew what non-mobile gamers want.