Gameloft, one of the most popular mobile game developers and publishers, is said to be thinking about making use of the new immersive API from Android 4.4. Although it has not disclosed or even hinted at any solid plan yet, it might make for a subtle yet important change in gaming experience.
Immersive mode has been hailed by some as one of the more important user experience improvements in Android 4.4. What it basically does is to hide not only the notification bar but also the navigation panel. Swiping down or up will reveal the hidden user interface so that users can proceed as normal. This allows apps like ebook readers and video players to make full use of the screen real estate to display what matters most to the user: the content.
Applying this interaction model to games is almost common sense and, indeed, some games do use it already, at least on the latest Android version. After all, who hasn’t been foiled before by accidentally tapping on the back button. But games are also a sort of special case. Unlike books or even videos, games are more resource intensive and could even make the device crawl. In some, but not most, cases, the ever visible navigation panel might present a way out of the game. These, as well as other user interaction considerations, might need to be thought out first.
This change is unlikely to come any time soon anyway. For one it would take some time for developers like Gameloft to implement the changes across their entire catalog. But more importantly, the immersive mode feature is only possible on Android 4.4, which has yet to see wide adoption in both existing and new devices.