Around the turn of the new millennium, mobile phones were little more than a curiosity when it came to gaming. Managing only efforts like a simplified version of Snake, these monochrome-screened, low-power devices were effectively relegated to their primary functions, with entertainment never being a worthwhile part of the equation. Since then, the mobile gaming market has exploded, wherein 2018 it is expected to bring in $137 billion, and that number is only growing. So what key components allowed this market to rise beyond its early limits, to become the international entertainment force it has become today?

Improving Tech

The most obvious contributor that makes the entire shift possible is that of improving technology, at a lower cost. Early mobile phones were as we see early video-game consoles today – hilariously limited. Since then, the prevalence of smartphone and the increase in processing capabilities of these devices have made them, in effect, small computers, capable of many feats which were formerly locked to desktop or laptop devices. With each new year these grow more powerful, and with this, the possibilities have expanded far beyond anything possible in the past.

Evolution of Mobile Phones
Mobile Device Evolution” (CC BY 2.0) by AdamSelwood

Evolving Infrastructure

Technology, as one side of the coin, is only as good as the surrounding environment. As smartphones became standard, the rise of app stores and dedicated supporting frameworks created an environment where sales and competition would thrive, and it is this which would prove a driving force of major mobile software innovation.

Today, the app environment is enormous and competitive, with developers in a constant battle to offer the best in both paid and free services, all vying to make the most of the similarly evolving technological capabilities.

Better Games

The part we are really interested in, let’s be honest. We aren’t saying that early games like Snake weren’t great, as they did their best when it came to working with what they had, but these limitations also limited imagination and, as we know, imagination is what allows gaming to thrive.

The first Snake developed by Nokia was a simple one-screen game and even suffered from performance issues which gave players on lesser devices an easier time. Compare this to modern major releases like the strategy games from Plarium – still free to play, still easy to get to work, and with online and gameplay complexities which would have caused even the famed Nokia ‘Bricks’ to melt down.

Fortnite
Fortnite Screenshot 2018.05.08 – 18.27.5” (CC BY 2.0) by Whelsko

Today even AAA console and PC developers are getting in on the action, with what are arguably the most popular games in the world right now, Fortnite and PUBG, offering remarkably well-translated experiences to the most modern mobile devices.

An Inclusive Future

While we still call them phones, these devices have grown far beyond the limitations of what this term implies. More powerful than the computers many of our older readers grew up with, these machines have legitimately opened a new world of possibilities – a statement as cliché as it is undeniably true. Almost everybody in the first world now grows up with these devices, almost everybody has become accustomed to what they can offer, and the demand for quality games has never been as high. We don’t know if mobile revenue will ever surpass that of traditional console gaming but, if current trends are any indication, the two aren’t really that far from being considered one and the same.

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