Some phones have to be left behind on the road to better Android games

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

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

I don’t know if Ferrell’s decision to bring the collection to Android will be profitable (though I’ve seen a lot of moaning at the $25 price). Still, I know the way the company is removing devices that can’t play games, it’s the right thing to do and the right way to do it.

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These are the Android devices that Feral will officially support, but that’s not the full picture. This is a list of devices on which the developers have actually tested the XCOM2 collection, and they are satisfied with the results. Other equipment Will Be able to download the game, and it may play fine. But devices that do not meet the minimum requirements in terms of hardware will not be able to download the game at all.

Many phones not listed will probably work fine, and many others will not. A phone like the RedMagic 6 Pro won’t have a problem if the OnePlus 6T or Galaxy S9 (or even the Galaxy S21) is able to handle it. Phone like Galaxy M51 and its Snapdragon 730 phone is No going to be able to run it.

The real question lies in the high end of mid-range devices that companies like Samsung, Motorola and Google like to make. We won’t know until it launches whether phones like the Galaxy A71 or Google Pixel 5 can run XCOM 2. It’s kind of a bummer, but I like how Feral is doing it all, and I especially like that the company didn’t try to change the game so that slower devices can play it. Playing XCOM2 would be useless if it were toned down and so many phones can play it, and I don’t want to spend $25 on it.

Ivan Cube, 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, it is not a risk, but reflects the natural progression of technology and business. In practice, tech companies have always made software updates and product developments that were/are incompatible with previous generations. It’s really no 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 that casual gamers and enthusiasts will always look for better performance as an incentive to upgrade their devices.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s okay to expect the company that made your phone to keep it up-to-date and secure throughout its entire useful lifetime (by the way, that’s over 3 years long, Google) but if new features can’t be added it’s worth it. Understood. On the other hand, wanting Ferrell to run XCOM2 on an older or slower phone is like asking Google to add higher screen-refresh support to the Pixel 4a. In both cases, the hardware does not support it.

XCOM2 is developed for a low-spec device that probably won’t cost $25.

This is not a new phenomenon either. Remember those NVIDIA Tegra-only games that were old-fashioned? The NVIDIA version of the Riptide GP was great and a helluva much better than the non-NVIDIA version. It was also really unpopular because there was more than one person without an NVIDIA Tegra device. Steps like Feral limiting XCOM2’s release to only “premium” devices may prove unpopular, but it is necessary.

However, all hope is not lost, as cloud gaming is actually 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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