Capcom's Monster Hunter Explore, which launched on Japanese mobile devices last fall with great success, recently soft-launched on the Canadian App Store. In mobile gaming language, this means a widespread English-language launch is probably imminent. That's not a guarantee, but typically when a company launches a game in Canada and / or other territories outside the United States and other densely-populated markets, it's undergoing one last test for bugs and glitches.
Monster Hunter Explore is a free-to-play take on Capcom's furiously popular Monster Hunter franchise. Touch Arcade's Shaun Musgrave wrote up his own impressions of the Japanese release last October, and he was largely impressed with the experience despite its free-to-play mechanics. Monster Hunter Explore is a quicker, more streamlined version of the sprawling Monster Hunter experience, which is more or less what you'd expect from a mobile iteration of a big action RPG series.
While the idea of a stripped-down Monster Hunter isn't everyone's idea of a good time, that's not what has people irked about Monster Hunter Explore. The problem is, Monster Hunter Explore isn't the franchise's first pop at mobile. Monster Hunter has hit mobile platforms at least twice before, and both games have since been rendered unplayable by iOS updates. Capcom fans consequently have trust issues about the company's mobile releases, period.
One game,Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting, is a 2011 spin-off from the main series that costs $4.99 and probably won't work if your device has been upgraded to iOS 8 or above.
The second and most infamous example, a 2014 mobile adaptation of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, cost a hefty $14.99 USD and likewise stopped working properly after the iOS 8 update. It broke completely with iOS 9, leading Capcom to declare it had no plans for a fix before the company simply pulled the game off the App Store and Google Play.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was a port of the 2008 PSP title of the same name, and mobile game reviewers enjoyed it. In-depth action RPGs that let you pay once to play rarely go unappreciated on the platform. The game also helped more Westerners get into the Monster Hunter franchise, seeing as mobile phones and tablets are obviously more widespread than the PSP. When Freedom Unite broke, a lot of its fans were understandably peeved.
Stuff happens, and one of mobile gaming's worst flaws is how readily games become unstable whenever Apple publishes an iOS update. But $14.99 is a lot of money to spend on a game that breaks quickly thereafter. From its release until the fated iOS update, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was playable for about one and a half years. That sucks.
Granted, hope isn't lost. There's an iOS 9 fix reportedly coming to the Japanese version of Freedom Unite this spring, though there's no word on when (or if) the English release is getting the same fix. It probably will, but will the game just break again whenever iOS 10 comes to life? And will Capcom take another six months to respond?
However you look at it, the crash-and-burn of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite isn't the sole source of people's bad feelings about Monster Hunter Explore. The App Store is littered with Capcom games that won't work on iOS 8 or higher, and fixes aren't happening (arguably the only reason Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is getting a fix is because of the game's popularity). People can't be blamed for pulling a sour face when Capcom gives up on its former mobile releases, but expects us to get excited about its new stuff.
Not all the blame for Capcom's App Store woes belongs exclusively to the developer. Apple's iOS updates typically roll out with zero regard for backwards compatibility with games and apps. But if you publish a game, you're responsible for trying to make sure players can enjoy it hassle-free. That goes double for games with high price tags.
Take note, Capcom, especially if you're really serious about upping your mobile output.