Cross-platform gaming is primed to be the next big thing. And the concept of playing the same game no matter what device you’re on is certainly a intriguing possibility. Problem is, we’re not quite there yet. Often when a Facebook game gets ported to mobile, or vice versa, the two games don’t speak to one another. You can slay zombies on both Facebook and iOS with Zombie Lane, for instance, but you can’t slay the same zombies, as progress isn’t shared between the two versions.
Nordeus’ soccer management game Top Eleven, on the other hand, is a solid example of how to do cross-platform gaming right. The new mobile version of the game doesn’t have everything the Facebook version does, but instead it offers up a supplementary experience that greatly enhances playing the game.
You won’t be able to play Top Eleven exclusively from your iPhone or Android device. Well, you can, but you’ll be missing a lot. A number of features are stripped away from the mobile app. You can’t manage your finances, for example, or deal with some of nitty gritty like expanding your stadium or putting players through training sessions. Instead, the core gameplay has been limited to some of the key aspects of the experience: you can follow the progress of a game in real-time, manage your line-up of players, put in bids to buy new players from the transfer market, and keep track of information like league standings, your schedule, and where you rank amongst your friends.
But even though the mobile version of the game is less robust than its Facebook counterpart, it’s still incredibly useful to players, especially those who really get into the game. Like many Facebook games events in Top Eleven happen in real time. So when a game is scheduled for 2:30 in the afternoon, it actually happens at 2:30 in the afternoon. Problem is, you can’t always be at your computer when a game is happening. And while you don’t have to follow the matches in real-time (everything still happens whether you’re there or not) those of us who are really invested in our fictional soccer club definitely like to do so. It’s important. Don’t ask me why. What the mobile app gives players like me the freedom to do is experience these time-sensitive moments without having to be chained to a computer. If I can do it from my phone I can simply pop in whenever I need to.
The developers have smartly reduced the number of things you can do in the mobile version of the game to what’s most important and what’s time-sensitive. Organizing your line-up is included, for example, because it’s something you’ll likely want to do before a match. If you do it afterwards it’s not much help. And since buying players is done via an eBay-style auction, you’ll need to check in at specific times to see if you’ve managed to outbid other players.
Of course it would be great if you could do everything from your phone. My team’s jersey’s could use a re-design and I should really start construction on those new stadium seats. But those are things that can wait until I can sit in front of a computer to play. True cross-platform gaming — the kind where you can play the exact same game on a number of platforms — may be a ways off, but the mobile version of Top Eleven shows we’re on the right track. It’s not the first game to do something like this, but it’s an example of one of the best so far.