Gamers have been enjoying playing video games ever since the advent and easy access of home computers. People of a certain age can remember the fond childhood experience of playing games like Frogger, Dizzy, and Chucky Egg. The start of home gaming really began with computers like the Commodore 64 and Spectrum. However, technological advances have made it possible for gamers to play more advanced, sophisticated, and interactive games that are not restricted to being played on the home computer or a gaming console. In the past several years it has been the combination of smartphones and tablets that have revolutionized the gaming industry.
By 2011 many of the top smartphones and tables were running on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 technology. The NVIDIA chip represented substantial advancement as cutting edge technology that brought the graphics processing power in the mobile space to a speed equivalent to that of a Personal Computer (PC) from just a few years prior.
Today, smartphones and tablets carry almost the same power as some PCs. This significant increase in performance has made it possible to run all the most popular graphic-intensive and processor-heavy games on mobile devices. Many people now have smart devices that have a similar 64-bit performance as PCs and laptops. This has resulted in software game, mobile app, and online developers to make their game titles responsive and befitting to the small screen devices.
The smartphones have high quality touchscreens, improved graphics and cameras, powerful programmable processors, increased storage, GPS, and accelerometers, all of which are becoming standard. These are the technological advances that are directly contributing to an improved mobile gaming experience, which is therefore contributing to how developers and mobile platforms are working hard to provide the best gaming experiences for gamers on the go.
In the United States alone, a
study from the PEW Research Center showed that the percentage of ownership of cell phones by American adults increased from 65% in November of 2004 to 91% in May of 2013 with the number of smartphone owners increasing exponentially. This is a trend that is occurring all over the world as mobile technology reaches deeper and deeper into various populations and economies.
Game developers are spending a great deal of money and time meeting the ever-increasing range of speeds that are possible on mobile devices. They recognize one of the most important applications of the current advancements in mobile technology is in developing the games in such a way that users experience the best quality possible on any respective device without the user having to make manual adjustments. In other words, the goal is for the games to play at the premium settings automatically based upon the device. The technology allows the game to be developed to adapt to the capabilities of the device rather than the gamer having to adjust the device settings or opting to play a different game that plays better.
The expansion of mobile usage and devices has not only how and where people are playing games, but also who is playing and the types of games being played. In fact, mobile gaming, which in large part includes social media gaming, has opened up the world of gaming to an entirely new demographic. This new gaming audience is often labeled as casual gamers. The people who make up this group are not the stereotypical gamer that most people think of. Young males are no longer the predominant group of people considered to be casual gamers. Instead, they include all ages and are from all backgrounds with
adult women being the largest demographic, choosing to spend their leisure, social, or waiting times gaming on mobile devices with smartphone apps.
The gaming industry has taken note of the rise in popularity of mobile gaming, adapting to the demands of the users. Clearly the social networking sites like Facebook have lead the way in creating and attracting these new gamers with nearly limitless choices for various types of social games like Words With Friends, Bejeweled, Candy Crush, Farmville, and others that are phenomenally popular. However, it is not just the social networking sites and the app creators who are getting a piece of the mobile gaming boom; it is also other entities that traditionally made their games to be played on computers or gaming console systems. Both the online casino industry and traditional home console industry have recognized the need to introduce mobile gaming apps and options that either tie-in with or stand apart from their traditional online gaming methods.
Online casino technology has made major advances over the past several years to adapt to the mobile gaming world. Not only has the casino software evolved from early primitive roots to high-definition 3D gaming experiences on computers, but also the introduction and expansion of mobile casinos has made casino games one of the fastest growing genres in mobile gaming, along with bingo. Online poker sites like Full Tilt have created apps so people can not only play a variation of poker on their mobile devices, but they can also play casino games like Blackjack and Roulette. Unlike traditional poker games that may require players to spend a relative long period of time to complete a game, these mobile poker and casino games allow players to enjoy these games over short periods of time, like during their commute or on lunch breaks.
While the online casinos are spurring the growth and popularity of the genre of games they provide, others in the gaming industry are seeking their own route into the mobile gaming market. Up until recently the gaming console giant Nintendo has actively fought to adapt to the rise of gaming on smartphones and tablets. Earlier this year they changed their tune, realizing that in order to compete in the gaming industry they needed to expand into mobile offerings as well. They signed a deal with DeNA,
a Japanese mobile giant, that will not only port games from the Nintendo's video gaming systems, but will develop brand new apps (in conjunction with DeNA) that may have players seeing familiar characters like Donkey Kong, Mario, and others on their iOS and Android devices before long.
The good news for the lovers of the traditional Nintendo experience is that the company is not abandoning their console or hardware market in favor of only mobile options. In fact, the brand announced it is developing a new dedicated game platform with a
code name of "NX". There are no real details available about this platform with a brand new concept, but more information about it is expected to be released in 2016.
Another big name delving deep into the mobile market is Disney. In addition to their app Disney Movies Anywhere, the big name in entertainment has a large catalogue of mobile games that feature Mickey Mouse, of course, and others like Duck Tales and Frozen's Queen Elsa.
The franchise has been very successful and earlier this spring was rated the number eight-downloaded publisher in the world on mobile according to the general manager of Disney Mobile Games, Chris Heatherly.
The audience for mobile gaming has seemed to blow up almost overnight, while the gaming industry has tried hard to keep up, if not get out in front of the trend. The ultimate result has been the gaming industry transitioning in many ways from a product to a service. They key for the success of the gaming industry now focuses on the importance of player loyalty and retention. As the technology continues to improve, the possibilities of mobile gaming will also continue to expand from 3D capabilities to very user friendly and immersive virtual reality. Gamers have every right to be excited as they look forward to a gaming future that goes beyond anything they can possibly anticipate today.