Picture this, you’re on a train commuting to school or work. You take a look to your left. Another commuter is clutching their phone and swiping at the screen. You take a closer look. They’re playing a candy crush. While this may be one of the most normal occurrences on public transport over the last decade, it wasn’t all that way. Before the advent of touchscreen phones, mobile gaming was relegated to purpose-built, handheld consoles. But now we all have gaming devices in our pockets.
It’s hard to emphasise how much of a leap the move to mobile gaming really was, so let’s take a look at all the ways mobile gaming changed the gaming landscape.
1. Accessibility and Mass Appeal
For the longest time, games had been relatively hard to play. Not in terms of the games themselves, but in terms of finding a way to play. You either had to go to an arcade—which your town might not have—buy a console or PC strong enough—with the money you might not have—or head over to a friend’s house—a friend you might not have…
Seriously though, we have it easy today. The App Store and Play Store are brimming with plenty of top quality games—from AAA ports to indie gems—which can simply be bought and downloaded in a couple of clicks. Better yet, due to their ability to leverage in-game advertising, many of these mobile games are totally free.
This shift completely revolutionised what it meant to “get” a game.
2. Casual and Bite-Sized Gameplay
Most mobile games are optimised for short game sessions that can simply fill in those dull moments of down time—whether that be on a bus or just before you get to bed. Of course there are exceptions to this, but most mobile games will either have short rounds or obvious places to take a break.
This is best seen in games like Candy Crush or Monument Valley, where each round or level will take just a few minutes to complete. Since the release of many of these games, we have clearly seen an increase in short and casual games.
3. Gaming on the Go
Mobile games not only made games easier to access than ever, but they also made it so we could play games while we were on the move. No longer did we need to plug our fancy console into a shiny TV set—everything was now held on this one device.
This freedom totally transformed when and where we play. Making gaming available all the time.
4. Expanding the Gaming Audience
While mobile made it easy to play anywhere and everywhere, it also made gaming available to anyone who had a phone. And, seeing as phones were expensive at the start of this revolution, this was often the older generations. This essentially exposed a whole new demographic to gaming.
5. Changing Monetization Models
Instead of requiring up-front payments, a large amount of mobile games chose a new method of monetisation—advertising. This was easy to implement seeing as phones were very often connected to the internet. This change in monetisation model helped to usher in a new era of free-to-play titles which then came to introduce microtransactions, cosmetics and premium currencies as additional ways of earning money for the developers. These modes of monetisation even seeped out into the larger world of gaming.
6. Social Connectivity
Leaderboards have always been a big part of gaming, but mobile gaming brought them back to the forefront allowing an easy interconnection between you and your friends. If you remember games like Farmville, these integrated themselves with social media platforms like Facebook to encourage social play. Because of these social interactions, and increased social responsibility, these games became a hit.
7. Hardcore Gaming on the Go
Since the early days of the mobile game, all sectors of the gaming industry have been getting involved. One of the most interesting trends has been the porting of popular, competitive online titles onto mobile. Games like Fortnite and PUBG.
This move to include even nail-biting FPS games on mobile has furthered the popularity, reach and engagement with these games. Introducing hardcore gamers to mobile gaming and mobile gamers to hardcore gaming alike. To get ahead in these competitive games you can buy Fortnite accounts.
8. Mobile Esports and Competitive Gaming
This turn also brought mobile gaming into the competitive and esports scenes, spawning their own tournaments. Of course, mobile esports is vast. Ranging from games like Clash Royale to Candy Crush to Fortnite.
With esports now existing for games you play on a device you always carry around in your pocket—the appeal for mobile games continued to skyrocket with gamers.
Ultimately, mobile games have reshaped the landscape of gaming in ways which will never be reversed. They have democratised gaming, introduced the form to new demographics, foregrounded new gameplay styles and even changed how developers make money from their games. The introduction and evolution of mobile gaming has been a landmark moment in the history of gaming. I can’t wait to see what the next landmark will be.