Mobile gaming is probably the dark horse of the industry. Its rise is one with several hiccups and wrong ideas. Many shunned it, stating that it is no more than a “distraction” in your phones. This was somewhat true with its overly simplified game play and concepts. Look at games such as “Bounce” or “Snake 2”. The lack of a controller forces players to utilize the keypads of the phone which is not exactly comfortable especially if you had to press the keypad seventeen times just to type out “Hello”. The games itself had a simplistic look. In fact, it looks more like something out of Microsoft Paint than an actual video game. The two games I’ve mentioned came pre-installed in the phone.
There were attempts to develop create a gamer-based phone in the form of the N-gage though it failed due to numerous reason which includes the controls still relying on the phone’s keypad which is not suited for gaming. The games however, got more colorful. One can buy games through magazines or newspaper ads by typing the code of the game in their phone. This was the same for music and theme.
The first crack in the mobile industry was when Sony released the PSP. Having already being pitted against Nintendo’s Gameboy, the mobile industry could not possibly go against the PSP which is truly made for the gamers with its inclusion of an analog stick and trigger buttons, the hardware also contained horsepower that surpasses leaps and bound of what the Gameboy could do. The mobile gaming scene went quiet even though mobile games are still being made using the Java software. To rub salt to the wound, Sony would later release the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, a smartphone that includes the same buttons from the PSP minus the analog stick. It featured classics such as Crash Bandicoot.
In 2012, the popularity of smartphone was the catalyst for the slow resurrection in the mobile gaming industry, in fact it had begun resurrecting a couple of years back with the release of ‘Angry Birds’. In the beginning, the games available for download were purely for the casual such as ‘Plants vs Zombie’ and ‘Fruit Ninja’. Despite its early days, many of the games were quite well made and were also original IPs. There were plenty of ‘true’ 3D games such as Dead Trigger where it became a fine example of what the new hardware could do. Since smartphones are touch screens, game developers took advantage of the motion tracking system by utilizing it in the concept of games such as “Where’s my water?”.
Soon, there were ports of console and PC games such as GTA: San Andreas and Minecraft both of which are highly impressive, although the controls do need some getting used to. Suddenly, the mobile market seemed more lucrative as more and more ports were made available on Smartphones. In fact, there are mobile exclusive release such as Lara Croft: GO which is played by swiping the screen. Perhaps the most impressive feat of mobile gaming is the full port of PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) and Fortnite with minor graphical tweak. It’s not the fact that they have managed to fit the full of experience of both games inside a small screen, which by itself is admirable, but the fact that you can play multiplayer with people from different platforms.
There you have it. A brief history of mobile gaming. There is still much to talk about Mobile Gaming from its large market of free games to VR and AR possibilities and the fact that mobile games are not limited to licensing so that means you will see brands such as Pokémon games and Halo games in the same app store. The gist is, mobile gaming is here to stay and flourish as long as people are still using smartphones which is a very long time.