“The screen is just too small”, “Control systems are poor”, and “There is little to none quality control” – these comments are what we normally hear from gamer with respect to mobile game. However, there is a fact none of us can deny: we have all played mobile games, whether frequently or not. People choose to play mobile game for a variety of reasons, including its portability which means you can play on the go. And for those reasons that mobile game, introduced to the large world audience long after PC game, has gained the most popularity over any other gaming mediums. In order to understand more about this ever-growing field of mobile gaming, we have to take a brief look at the history of it.
The $47 billion worth mobile gaming industry with roughly 180 million users took off in 1994 with the first mobile game ever Tetris, launched aboard the Hagenuk MT-2000, a phone designed and manufactured in Denmark by the Hagenuk Corporation. At that moment, Tetris was already 10 years old and had conquered the world of gaming, coming right from the Soviet Union. The tile-matching puzzle video games requires players to stack tetrominoes (geometric shapes of four square blocks each) while making sure the figures don’t stack to the top of the playing field.
If Snake and Tetris are the first generation of mobile game, the second generation is WAP games. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a standard given to technology to enable mobile device to connect to the internet and by the late 1990’s there was a micro-browser that could run on mobile phones together with a version of the web called UP Link. Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson joined together and with the WAP Forum now called the Open Mobile Alliance, a partnership began which ensured standardization in Europe. When mobile phones and WAP combined together, the basic ecosystem was created that allowed developers to make games and sell them to the willing public.
Technology kept improving to provide better quality games on mobiles; however, it wasn’t until 2007 that the newly introduced iPhone marked the beginning of a new era for mobile gaming. This excellent piece of technology worked well and with the launch of the App Store in July 2008, the mobile games industry had a platform that enabled consumers to buy their favorite games directly to their phones via iTunes. This new platform also enabled the developers to sell their games directly to consumers without the hassle of dealing with operators or publishers. With the App Store accepting over 1,000 new apps per day you can download anything that interests you, and gaming titles kept growing exponentially.
With the introduction of the Google Play store with Android games, alongside the success of Apple Store, tens of thousands of new games were published every year, with Angry Birds reaching 17000 daily installation, Candy Crush Saga receiving more than $1.5 million dollars every day. Moreover, you can now play a lot of classics games on mobile version such as Portal, Paper Please, Sonic the HedgeHog, Pac-man.. The ability of mobile technology to simulate games on PC makes the industry even more appealing to a larger audience.
Let’s take a look at the mobile gaming industry in relation to other gaming industries. The mobile gaming industry is an absolute record breaker. With an ever-growing number of smartphone users expected to go over 5 billion in 2018 (considering the world’s population is 7.6 billion), it is no wonder social and casual mobile games win wider audiences. This steady growth is partially stimulated by the influence of the Asian countries, China, South Korea, and Japan. In contrast to Europe, Asian gamers are more likely to adopt smartphone games, not PCs or consoles. In the past few years, mobile devices have undergone notable changes. Their processors have become more powerful, and RAM sizes have increased at warp speed. This has brought them close to being competitive with PCs, especially when mobiles devices began using the cloud. With the plethora of devices developed, a gamer simply plugs his mobile phone into the docking station connected to a large screen and enjoys the game as if it was launched on a PC. Mobile screens have increased in size and resolution. It has become possible to play games only available on computers a few years ago, for example Grand Theft Auto Vice City.
The figure above shows that mobile game is on its way to dominate the gaming industry. There are trends on mobile gaming now that make the industry even more friendly towards users. With cutting-edge advancements like Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR, we can say we will sure see new improvements in the in the space of virtual reality experiences. Due to thrills of live events and activities, today’s mobile games offer much more than just fun and entertainment. Developers nowadays leverage certain live elements of the mobile games to create interest, retention, and loyalty.
Multi-player game development has begun to flourish even more and integration of social activities has become an integral part of modern mobile games. On the left is a picture of me playing Pubg mobile with my friends. Another trend is offline games that allow players to continue their game sessions even when internet connectivity falters especially during traveling. Below is the image of one of my games playing World Conqueror 2 offline.
Offline game Fruit Ninja has earned the reputation of the most downloaded offline game in Apple store and made $1 million per month. In conclusion, mobile gaming is gaining much wider reach and impact than PC and console games. And all the credit goes to affordable prices, creative graphics, technology-enabled improvements and user-friendly themes.