Smartphones have revolutionised the world in terms of communication and accessibility, but also in gameplay. They provide a unique platform for game designers and a large audience of game players. Like the phones themselves, mobile gaming constantly evolves, adapting to suit the needs of a contemporary world.
Smartphones and the internet
The iPhone was released in 2007. As the first smartphone, it set the tone for future technology of its kind, with touchscreen display, a single home button and a thin flat design. The new technology allowed for high-definition graphics, touch interaction and stunning artwork. The iPhone was succeeded in the same year by the iPhone App Store and the iPhone 3G, which came pre-loaded with the App Store.
Source: App Store via Facebook
The following year, Google joined the market with the Android OS and their app store, Android Market (now known as Google Play). Currently, 80% of internet users own a smartphone. Contemporary games rely more heavily on WiFi connection than their predecessors, with more multiplayer options (and fewer games you can play on airplane mode).
Angry Birds, launched in 2009, was the first commercially successful mobile game, turning profits of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Source: Andry Birds via Facebook
It set a trend for addictive, mobile-specific games that led to the existence of Plants vs Zombies, Cut the Rope, and Fruit Ninja in 2010, Temple Run in 2011, Candy Crush in 2012 and Flappy Bird in 2013. This popularity caught the eye of advertisers, who saw these free-to-play games as an opportunity area. In-app advertising is a part of modern mobile gaming, be it through mandatory level-up ads or optional reward videos.
The mobile game revolution
Smartphone gaming has overtaken both the PC and console gaming industries. According to Business Insider, smartphone gaming is worth an estimated $36.9 billion, taking up 32% of the world gaming industry (compared to PC gaming’s 23% and console gaming’s 31%).
But while this boom in mobile gaming hasn’t negatively affected the sales of PCs and consoles, it has affected other industries. A study by Kahil S. Philander found that the online casino market leeches around 27-30% of casino profits. While there were only 15 virtual casinos in 1996, by the end of 1997, there were more than 200. In 2012, casino games went mobile and now, over 50% of casino players across the globe play from their smartphones and tablets. Because of this demand, all major casino game providers produce provably fair casino games that are compatible with mobile devices.
Demographics of gaming
While the 1990s gaming scene would see the female demographic as a minority, nowadays women make up around 50% of the gaming market. This is due, in large part, to mobile games apps, on which women spend 35% more time than their male counterparts.
Mobile gaming, like all industries, shifts with the times. It suits the needs of our increasingly globalised world and provides an outlet for the gamer on the go. It will be exciting to see where the industry goes in the future because it shows no signs of slowing down.