Mobile Game Development – It’s Past, Present & Future

Mobile Game Development - It's Past, Present & Future

In the beginning, mobile phones were nothing more than simple voice communication devices. People wouldn’t have even imagined about mobile game development at that time. On 3rd April 1973, Martin Cooper of Motorola made the world’s first mobile phone call to his rival Dr. Engel of Bell labs. Those devices were bulky, large, and plain-looking. Two decades later, IBM introduced the first ever mobile app for a Smartphone.

Mobile phone industry has grown dramatically. As somebody rightly said, “A man is known by the company of the phone he keeps”, mobile phones are more or less one’s status symbol now. We admire our devices and we are very happy to own it. They are more like our companions nowadays.

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Age of Mobile Game Development, the beginning

Entertainment has always been an essential part of human life. So, it’s no wonder someone thought mobile game development would be a great idea.

The first ever apps included a few unadorned games, calculator, calendar, world clock and contact book that came pre-installed in the mobile devices.

The versatility of mobile phone apps is phenomenal. They range from apps for social networks, travel, health, banking, fitness, news and much more. The mobile game development industry also has its own share to offer.

The first mobile games introduced were a mobile version of Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000 device in 1994 and Snake on Nokia in 1997.

First mobile games developed First mobile games developed 1

The scope for mobile games was very limited earlier. The very first games were basic, uncluttered and penny plain. They were characterised with poor visual quality, minimal or no effects, polygon characters, block articles, performance lag, and snail-paced movements.

Initially when mobile hardware development was still in its infancy, the mobile game development industry faced problems due to the low battery life, unavailable memory and poor graphics hardware.

Present day Games

The time when we fancied old-school games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Tetris and Snake are over. Introduction of smartphones was a predominant breakthrough in the communication field. We witnessed major achievements through extreme R&D steps and market analysis, which brought successive versions of highly advanced devices into the market. These devices featured better software and hardware functionalities with each generation.

It is seen that developers are moving away from living room consoles and towards PC and mobile game development. Mobile platforms don’t have the restrictions that come with developing for consoles. They are much cheaper and can be developed without the help of a publisher. And also with the introduction of android and iPhone, mobile game development quality started to close the gap with console games.

Popular Mobile Game Categories

Mobile games refer to video games that are played on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and the like. Games can be downloaded from app stores such as Google play or the Apple App store or could come preloaded with the device. It is also possible to play your games from the cloud.

The generally acclaimed qualities of mobile games are the right mix of fact and fantasy, focusing on the game’s graphics, sound, story and replay value.

Some of the leading category/genres of mobile game development include:

Detective games/ Murder mystery games: These games require the player to solve a mystery  and catch the criminal by following various clues.

Combat games: Combat games include fighting opponents, which can be armed or unarmed.

Survival games/ Room escape games/ Zombie games: These games include horror elements and arouse fear in the player. Themes could include death, gore, the undead and possession.

Strategy games: In this type of games, the player should make use of decision making skills to achieve victory.

Simulation games: Simulation games include games that offer realistic interpretations and operations of various machines or real life activities. They are widely used for various training purposes.

Simulation games

Educational games: Educational games are targeted at young audiences. These games should have some kind of educational value. They range from simple spelling games to different types of complex construction games based on the academic level of player.

Sport games/ Competitive games/ Race games: This includes playing any of the traditional sports. Archery games, football, car races etc comes under this category.

Adventure games/ Exploration games: This is a type of game where there is a considerable amount of fantasy and the game goes forward by exploration.

Puzzle solving/ mystery games: This includes the logic oriented games. The player needs to solve puzzles and mysteries to move on to the next level.

The list is only a common classification of the different types of mobile games and is not in any way exhaustive.

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Game Engines

Present day mobile devices offer powerful platforms to develop stunning real life scenes and characters. Mobile game development have evolved from the first single player games to java games and multiplayer 3D games. With the help of full color visuals and realistic sound effects, mobile games can now create a whole new world of augmented reality.

A game engine is a software tool used for creating video games. Unity, CryEngine, J2me and Unreal Engine are the most popular game engines in use today. These engines are chosen based on the type of game that is about to be developed, like a shooter game or a puzzle game.

Unity 3D: The Unity 3D game engine helps you to develop awesome interactive 3D games. It allows cross platform publishing and supports imports from popular 3D applications like Maya.

CryEngine 3: CryEngine helps to create pretty and realistic game visuals with artist-level programming. It also comes with the most powerful audio tool, Fmod. It is considered as the best mobile game development tool for beginners.

mobile game development - cry engine

Unreal Engine 4: This is the most popular mobile game development engine. Some of the most successful games were developed by using this tool which includes ARC Squadron Redux, Batman, and Blade. This tool has a lot of amazing features such as improved dynamic lighting and advanced particle system that enhances the graphics quality.

Unreal engine 4 mobile gaming app

J2me Engine: This is a version of Java. The major advantages of J2me are its security features, development alternatives and omission of any licensing fee.

Features of present day Mobile Games

With powerful hardware and sophisticated tools available in the market, mobile game development has undergone an extensive facelift. More amazing features means there is more control on how much your game can stand close to reality. It also aids in faster development and release cycles.

Detailed characterisation, crystal clear visuals, audio excellence, polished animations, great looking textures, gorgeous art style, near to reality lighting, responsiveness, precision & finesse, and adherence to the fundamental laws of nature are some of attractive features that new generation games offer.

Immersive games with features described above could transform you to a virtual reality and evoke real life feelings and emotions. It could drive you crazy and leave you overwhelmed. You will crave for more gaming hours. There is a global demand for games that test your speed, knowledge, rational thought and common sense.rel=”nofollow”

Some new trends in mobile game development:

Multiplayer games: A multiplayer mobile game allows two or more players to play a single game by sharing the same game environment by using Bluetooth or similar technology. It allows interaction among players and offers real-world opponents. Multiplayer games that supports cross platform gaming are also available.

Social games: Social games are played online and it requires social network integration. It is the most popular game played in the world. These games allow gamers to stay connected with their friends. Mafia Wars and Candy Crush are two of the most successful social network games on Facebook.

Location based games: In location based games, the gameplay progresses based on the location of the player. The location information is commonly retrieved using the GPS technology.

Phone accelerometer: The accelerometer is a device that senses movement or gravity, which in turn helps it to sense the angle at which the device is being held. This has opened a new scope by introducing the technology for playing mobile games. Accelerometer sensors which functions as game controllers are placed to measure the tilt, angle and speed of player actions.

mobile Phone accelerometerPhone accelerometer 2

The Gamer – Age and Gender Groups

Mobile phones were considered as a luxury until not too long ago. But today, they are one among the most common commodities. They are owned by the young and the aged alike. There are more mobile devices than people in this world.

As mobile gaming technology flourished with improved hardware such as the sound cards, graphics cards and powerful & faster processors, it became increasingly easy to conceptualize and design games suitable for all age and gender groups. Quick distraction games are trend setters as they can be played in bite sized chunks when you wait in line or during lunch break. For most people, mobile games are truly entertainment in pockets.

In the US alone, there are more than 100 million mobile game players. This includes children, men, women and the old. The average age of mobile game players is 28 years. Though most of the serious gamers are supposed to be men, recent studies show that over half of the mobile gamers in the world are women. The number of women gamers in developed countries is greater than those in the developing or undeveloped countries.

Many games are now being developed focusing women audiences with apt characters and story lines. A lot of women are already in the executive job titles in the gaming industry.

The Mobile Game Market – Statistics

Mobile game development had been just a fringe activity for years, but now they have come up into the mainstream. The mobile game market is very much on the rise from the past several years.

The global mobile gaming market has been worth about $25 billion by the end of 2015. It is dominated by the US, Japan and China. The Asia Pacific countries as a whole generate about 56% of the world’s mobile gaming revenues.

93% of the purchased applications are games. Of these, cross-platform games are monetized 25% better. 34% of the top 100 game apps use the Freemium model.

Moving on to social network games; of the 100 million players, about 61% plays them on Facebook. More than 50% of Smartphone and tablet owners play their games every day.

Benefits of Video Gaming

The benefits of gaming goes well beyond entertainment and education. Here are some of them:

  • They help to overcome attention related disorders such as dyslexia.
  • Moderate game playing improves vision.
  • Brain games can boost brain activity and slow down the biological aging process.
  • As a post-injury prescription, it performs a great role in easing pain by diverting attention.
  • Multi-player games help build social connections.
  • Strengthens hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Improves decisive skills.
  • Reduce stress.
  • They help compulsive overeaters and drinkers to curb cravings.
  • Enhance creative thinking.

We should not forget the bad side

Serious gamers spend way too much of their daily hours in front of their gaming devices. One should be aware that, this behavior could damage one’s health. Listed below are some of the most common health hazards that excessive gaming can bring about.

  • Addiction
  • Thinning line between reality and the virtual world
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Aggression
  • Obesity
  • Vision disturbances

Future of Mobile Game Development

“The future of mobile game development is bright. Venture capitalists are investing like mad right now, and start-ups are beginning to see the fruits of their labor with huge returns….…. As mobile devices become more powerful, we’ll also see more mid-core games being produced. Eventually, you’ll be able to play a game as graphically impressive and complex as Halo: Reach, on a handheld. At this point, the industry will revolutionize yet again as the pinnacle achievement is reached. “- Christopher P. Onstad(Lead 3D Modeler, Mega Pickle Entertainment)

Strictly speaking, the future of mobile gaming is unpredictable. It’s been known that built-in hardware features and peripheral accessories affect the way mobile games are played greatly.
The imminent development could be in gaming devices such as Wearables, Phablets, GameStream or VR helmet sets. Or there could be new technologies introduced in mobile gaming including head tracking, computer vision, motion sensing, color detection, sound sensing, and artificial intelligence.

Future of Mobile Game Development

Future mobile phones could be 3D enabled Smartphones like the HTC EVO 3D which enables 3D mobile gameplay.

The term in itself might envelope a whole new sense and meaning as the words of Jennifer Estaris (Designer, Total Immersion) might help convey:

“Mobile game does not mean phone or tablet. It means, ‘Oh, I wore this shirt today, which has connectivity with this bus stop, which alters the world via my sunglasses, and I control the game with my hands… or voice… or… thoughts.”

Visionaries say that there will be more cross platform access in future for the same game. When games are stored and played from the cloud, there will be multiple ways of access to your games. You can start playing your game from your TV and continue to play it on your iPad/Smartphone and then, move on to playing it from your PC.

There is also a massive scope for linking everyday activities to mobile games. Applications such as Foursquare, Wikitude, Layar etc. could be turned into actual games.What mobile game development requires is out-of-the-box thinking and fearlessness to experiment and implement new ideas.

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