Is it the end of the world as we know it? How mobile gaming changed the gaming industry for good

Remember Snake? That obnoxious yet addictive game you used to play on your Nokia mobile, long before you even knew that the wonders we now call smartphones were possible? Mobile gaming has come a long way since then, and it is definitely here to stay. In fact, not only stay, but also forever change the landscape of the gaming industry.

The gamer profile

Made possible by leaps in modern technology that most of us cannot even begin to wrap our heads around, mobile games have almost instantly won the hearts of mobile users, who welcomed a new way to kill time. However, old-school gamers are still warming towards them: the traditional gamer profile is that of a person truly devoted to their craft, one who takes their time in learning the ways around a game and mastering the maps and the controls, taking pride in passing complicated levels and breaking records established by other esteemed gamers. Not a good fit for the much simpler layout and lower difficulty level a portable device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, requires.

However, recent studies suggest that more and more gamers are turning to their mobile phones to play both old favourites and simpler games like puzzles and trivia games. Surveys reveal that games like these, along with word games and action/shooter titles, are the most popular games on mobile devices. Could it then mean that the gaming community is also slowly, but steadily adapting to the joys of mobile gaming – which would mean increased portability and easier control demands from the traditional video game industry as well?

The reign of the apps

No wonder then that legendary titles, like Dota and Call of Duty, are still widely played on PCs – although several titles have expanded on app versions. For example, League of Legends recently marketed a “companion app” to help players combine the enjoyment of playing the game full feature and taking advantage of a smartphone’s networking capability: players can use the app to chat, see whether their usual teammates are available or team up with strangers to play the game. In other news, Pokemon Go, a direct-to-app augmented reality mobile game, was met with unprecedented success.

Source: Pokemon-Go via Facebook

However, in other video game titles things have evolved more gradually and smoothly. Online gambling games, which caters for those interested in real-money games, had much fewer problems adapting to their audience’s demands for easier access through mobile devices. Online card games like poker and blackjack and even bingo are now offered on a myriad of apps suitable for Android and iOS. Traditional iGaming providers like Sun Bingo now offer classic slot games like Bejeweled 2 and Deal or No deal for mobile devices. The Sun Bingo app also brings its community vibe to the app by giving 24-hour access to their chat hosts and organising regular giveaways.

The price is right, but at what cost?

Last but not least, mobile games translate to less costly options for the gamer – many apps are free and those that aren’t cost much less than their PC or console equivalents. Of course smartphones aren’t that cheap in the first place, but these days it seems everybody owns one: 68% of people in the UK and 72% of the US population own a smartphone. Smartphone penetration, usage, and addiction is only growing by the day, meaning we rely more and more on our mobiles for tasks traditionally undertaken by the computer: checking our e-mails, social media or even finding our way on the map.

Source: Super Mario via Facebook

Entertainment is no exception, and it is transforming the focus and perspective of traditional gaming industry titans. Only last year, Nintendo finally gave in and agreed to release its IP on mobile third-party platforms, by releasing Super Mario Run for mobile devices. The game is complex enough to satisfy die-hard fans, yet for many lacks the charm of the original. It may even signal another change in what the game industry is aiming for: mobile games are short and simpler by nature, so the focus tends to shift towards increased replayability – and of course, fun.

Mobile devices have taken everything else by a storm – so why should gaming be any different? But what exactly this means for both beloved titles and traditional gaming approaches, it remains to be seen.

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