Image source: pexels.com
The first ever mobile game was a variant of the classic Tetris for the Hagenuk MT-2000 device in 1994, but mobile gaming didn’t really become a popular thing until Snake came along on the Nokia 6610 in 1997.
Since then, an estimated 400 million copies have been shipped, and the simple yet addictive game went on to spark a mobile gaming revolution.
According to venturebeat.com Mobile gaming is now worth $41 billion and held the largest portion of the total $91 billion games industry in 2016. So how has the handheld device prevailed over established platforms such as console and PC?
Pick-up-and-play format is key
Snake set the tone for mobile gaming with its simple formula that worked on a few levels: it was easy and playable by anyone because it only required the use of a few buttons; it could be played in short bursts; and although there were numerous iterations on different models including the Nokia 3310 in 2000, the Nokia 6260 in 2004, and the Nokia 1112 in 2006, the objective was simple and remained the same – guide the snake to the food.
When smartphones hit the mainstream with the iPhone in 2007, the emergence of apps quickly changed the playing field. Downloading app games became the norm, and ten years later in 2017 there are now over 2.2 million applications available in the App Store. Angry Birds is the most famous success story, and the game and its offshoots have generated a revenue of over $150 million per year for Rovio, the company behind it.
Casino games also incorporate the simplicity that is now synonymous with the mobile format, and most online casino operators now offer a mobile app so their site’s users can play the games on the go. Slot games in particular are proving to be well suited to the mobile game user.
Slot Games have been in existence since the late 1800s, but more advanced versions such as Reel Thunder and Red Hot Devil with their updated graphics and side games are around thanks to the mobile technology of today. Augmented reality has also hit the mainstream thanks to mobile devices and popular games such as Pokémon Go. The hugely popular monster-collecting app had 28.5 million unique visitors per day when it peaked, and will surely lead to more developers creating similar AR games.
Mobile devices are now highly advanced
The number of mobile phone users worldwide is steadily on the rise. There were 4.01 billion in 2013, and there will be a projected 5.07 billion by 2019. In addition to that, it is predicted that by 2020 77% of mobile users will play games on their device. These numbers highlight just how much the mobile games market is set to grow further, and it’s partly down to the fact that mobiles are becoming so much more advanced and provide a better experience.
The original iPhone in 2007 had a 320 x 480 display, which would now be put to shame by the iPhone 7 Plus which boasts 1080 x 1920. This provides crisp and clear picture quality that could rival some PCs, and is one reason why games are being played on this platform more and more. Another factor is that mobiles are often serving people’s purposes such as sending emails, editing photos, or playing music just as well as a PC would, so they are opting to buy a mobile device instead. They are even better for some things, such as video calling. In fact, mobile web usage recently overtook laptops, with just over 50% of people now opting for mobile or tablet. Mobile games are varied enough to suit everyone’s tastes, with arcade and action being the most popular. There are 615,000 action downloads per month and 631,000 arcade downloads, and the fact that 62% of smartphone users install games within a week of purchasing the device shows just how much this market will continue to thrive.
The mobile gaming market looks set to dominate for many years to come looking at the projections mentioned above. Virtual and augmented reality devices may affect the market in the future, but as it stands devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive which sold 243,000 and 420,000 units respectively last year just can’t come close.