Playing a game on your phone is no longer unusual or limited to certain devices. And you don’t have to carry a second handheld console like the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo DS to play games on the go. Most smartphones are now rated and reviewed for their gaming performance and compatibility. For example, Trusted Reviews claims that the HTC One M9 can run some of the most demanding games, like Asphalt and Real Racing 3, without dropping frames or overheating. But to truly understand mobile gaming, take a look at where it started and where it’s going:
The Beginning of Mobile Gaming
The game Snake appeared on the Nokia 6610 in 1997 as the first mobile game. This led to the next big step for mobile games on the subsequent generation of phones that featured Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), a technology developed to allow devices to connect to the Internet. This work was done mostly by Unwired Planet; however, it took years for anybody to come up with well-functioning tools.
In the late 1990s, a microbrowser for mobile phones was created with a version of the web titled UP.Link. It first joined with well-known phone companies in Europe and enabled users to connect to a server and transfer data to their phones as if they were sitting at a computer hooked up to the web. These capabilities prompted game designers to start thinking about what they could do with WAP, such as multiplayer gameplay, electronic-based board games or turn-based games where players could send information back and forth to one another.
Mobile Gaming Now
The Finnish company Supercell is one of the most successful mobile gaming startups, creating the highest-grossing pay-to-win games like Clash of Clans, Hay Day and Boom Beach. All three rank as No. 1 games on the iPad in multiple countries.
Japan’s SoftBank bought into Supercell in 2013 with the help of its partner GungHo Online Entertainment. GungHo Online Entertainment invested 20 percent of the $1.53 billion for a shared 51 percent stake in the company. It tripled its earnings the next year, moving from $565 million in 2013 to 1.7 billion in 2014, according to The New York Times. SoftBank had recently upped its stakes in the startup to 73.2 percent after purchasing an additional 22.7 percent of shares from external investors with existing VCs such as Index, IVP, Atomico and Accel exiting the company, reports Tech Crunch.
This rapid growth and success of mobile games shows what the market currently wants. Supercell’s CEO and co-founder Ilkka Paananen explains that the combination of smartphones, tablets and the free-to-play business model has created a new market for them to succeed in. He also states that the company’s partnerships have helped them achieve their goals more quickly.
The Future of the Mobile Gaming Market
A company statement notes that Supercell will continue to operate as an independent company with Paananen proceeding onward as the head of the business. With Supercell leading the industry, other companies, like Zynga, have faltered. Zynga plans to cut more than 300 employees after closing down 10 of its Facebook games back in March. Just like other businesses, companies have to keep consumers’ changing tastes in mind and be ready to move onto the next big thing. Mobile and social media gaming companies also have to consider what platforms are compatible with their games and if they want to try and reach a bigger market or stick with a specific niche.