Gaming is now a 100+ billion dollar industry. Of this huge figure, nearly 50 percent comes from mobile games. If considered a separate entertainment sector, mobile games would be one of the biggest.
To us at the present, the figures may not come as a huge surprise. Smartphones have invaded nearly all areas of our lives. They perform multiple functions, gaming being one of them.
But today’s dominance might come as a surprise when one compares it to the state of mobile gaming about 15 years ago. Because before smartphones, mobile games occupied only a small role within the gaming industry. Very few people actively played them. As a result, they generated comparatively less revenue as well.
Technology, as always, disrupted the balance within the gaming industry, leading to the steady rise of mobile gaming. The past decade in particular has seen several technological advancements.
Below are five of these technological advancements that have pushed mobile gaming to its great heights of today:
#1. ‘Smart’ Phones
Phones of the past served the primary purpose of being a communicative device. Particularly calling. Hence, they had hardware limitations, which meant all other functions mobiles could perform took a backseat. Gaming included.
But the situation is now the reverse thanks to smartphones. Advancements in phone hardware and software have turned phones into multi-purpose devices, much like PCs. They are now used for a variety of purposes like accessing social media, browsing the internet, and gaming. For many users, calling has taken a backseat.
The phones of today, are also far powerful than many PCs of a decade ago. The most advanced of the current-gen phones like flagship Android and IOS phones have CPUs with six and even cores. They also have powerful GPUs embedded in them. And each year, these keep getting better.
The OSs of the phones complements the hardware. The latest version of Android and iOS allows mobile game developers to utilize the full performance of the powerful hardware on their phones. And like the hardware, the OSs also get better each year. Each new version brings new features that improve the mobile gaming experience.
The combination of advancements in hardware and software technology is the prime reason why we see both casual 2D games like Stick Fight, as well as open-world 3D games like the GTA San Andreas port, on smartphones.
#2. Better Development Frameworks
Development frameworks have also become advanced, alongside phone hardware and software. As of 2021, there are numerous advanced game engines and development frameworks that mobile game developers can use.
There is Unity, from Unity Technologies, a powerful 2D and 3D game development engine. Then there is Unreal from Epic, another powerful game engine notable for 3D game development. There is also Cocos2d-x from Cocos, a game engine apt for 2D game development. All these are accessible, either for free or at cheap prices.
Using advanced game engines like these mobile game developers can create games for both Android and iOS devices with a single development process. Their advanced features massively reduce the time required to create a game from scratch. It is as a result of this, we see 2D and 3D games of all scopes and genres on Google Play store and Apple App Store.
#3. Improved Mobile Game Distribution
In the years when Java mobile games proliferated it was hard to distribute games. Because users were fragmented across several online stores and websites. For a mobile game developer to get any profit from their game, they had to upload the game to multiple stores and keep track of all of them.
The entry of the Apple App Store and Google Play store changed all that. It gave developers exposure to millions of users by uploading their games to a single store. Users also found this single store approach useful, as they could get all their games from a single place. Hence, the number of downloads increased. And as a result, developers started creating and distributing more and more games.
This new distribution system also helped developers to better monetize their games. Because users could pay for games instantly either as upfront payments or in-app purchases. The stores processed these payments through secure channels and then credited them to the developers’ accounts.
#4. Play Alone No More
Nowadays, players don’t have to play games alone, like in the past. Instead, they can play together with their friends or with strangers from around the globe. This too is thanks to the advancement in technology, in the form of high-speed internet.
Multi-player mobile games like PUBG, Fortnite, and Ludo King are huge successes. For these games to function, the devices must quickly transmit data to servers and receive data as well. High-speed wireless internet technologies like 4G allow just that.
As a result of this, a large number of people from around the world have started gaming. Mobile multi-player gaming is incredibly popular.
#5. Console Games on Phones
Many gamers around the world have wished to play console games on the go, on their phones, for years now. Thanks to the rise in cloud gaming technology, this is now possible.
The technology has been in the works for years now. In the past, many companies have tried to make it ready for mass usage. But none became a success.
But Google and Microsoft have finally managed to do what was once dubbed impossible. Largely thanks to the huge technological infrastructure these companies have at their disposal. Interested players can now play console games on select smartphones via Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud. All they will require is a high-speed internet connection.
Cloud gaming though, is still in its infancy. It might be a while before it fully lives up to its promise. But companies like Sony, Amazon, Nintendo, and Nvidia, are also building their cloud gaming tech. So, we’ll see cloud gaming come to fruition, soon.
Technology has transformed mobile gaming. Particularly during the 2010s, when the advancements led to a rapid rise in the number of mobile gamers.
We can expect further shifts in the coming years, as better technologies will transform the mobile gaming industry even more. Of note is AR, which may revolutionize mobile gaming unlike never before.
Sagar is working at Juego Studios a Game Development Company. He writes a blogs about technology, gaming and art and design. In his free time.