Today, the mobile game market is one of the largest digital ones in the world, and could possibly one day even overtake console and computer gaming. Here is a look back at how this once-fledgling industry exploded.
How Mobile Gaming Began
As utility and entertainment have merged in many other areas of our lives, in hindsight it was seemingly only a matter of time before we would be able to play exciting and engrossing games from the comfort of our personal cell phone.
The first call from a mobile phone was placed in 1973. And the first entirely handheld digital game, Mattel’s Auto Race, came out in 1977. But mobile gaming and your mobile phone wouldn’t combine forces for another 20 years.
The two games most credited with being the first on mobile phones are Hagenuk’s Tetris and Nokia’s Snake. Although game developers were limited by the existing technology at the time, that all changed with the arrival of wireless application protocol (WAP). The advent of WAP allowed for phone users to download games from remote servers and to send and receive an amount of data that was unheard of at the time.
These early games were primitive compared to their console counterparts, and the burgeoning industry has been filled with trial-and-error to figure out how to make mobile gaming better and better. But now as more and more companies (and more and more dollars) get invested into these pocket-sized games, the more difficult even the most casual of gamers find them to put down.
On July 6, 2016, Pokémon GO was released for iOS and Android mobile devices. Within its first few weeks, the augmented reality game was already one of the biggest mobile hits ever.
Angry Birds vs. Candy Crush
Inarguably the biggest hit mobile games are Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. Both have become such global phenomenons they’ve made researchers study just why they are so addictive.
The Future of Mobile Gaming
One thing that can be counted on for at least the next several years is the continued growth of the mobile game market. Mobile game and VR advisers DigiCapital predict that users will spend over $45 billion annually on mobile gaming by 2018, up drastically from the $29 billion spent in 2015.
The future is impossible to predict exactly, but experts mostly agree that a number of things are bound to happen with mobile gaming in the near future:
- Storage and memory limitations will lessen, allowing for even better graphics, data tracking, and more engrossing gameplay elements
- GPS and augmented reality (AR)-based games, like Pokemon Go and Ingress, will be seen more and more on the best-seller charts
- VR mobile gaming will arrive and be here to stay, with headset devices like Facebook’s Oculus VR and Google’s Cardboard leading the way.
- Similar to Twitch with console and PC gaming, technology will emerge allowing users to stream and watch live mobile gaming action happen on someone else’s device
With more and more people around the world having access to smartphones over consoles and computers, it’s hard to see DigiCapital’s prediction not come true or even be surpassed.