Charting the Evolution of Mobile Gaming Apps, From Snake to Pokemon GO

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In the past few decades, the evolution of mobile gaming apps has, naturally, largely followed the development of mobile phones. As smartphones have become more powerful, mobile gaming apps have introduced richer graphics and more intricate controls. Not only are mobile games more complex than they once were, but there is also more of them. The days of relying on whatever games are pre-installed on a phone are long gone.

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In fact, users can even access several games through one app, as noted in an article by Casino Guide UK on mobile casino apps. With one simple download of certain online casino apps, players can have over a thousand games at their fingertips. How did we get to this level of choice and quality? Here is a look at the key moments in the evolution of mobile gaming apps.

Classic mobile games

The first mobile phone game was Tetris, released in 1994 on the Hagenuk MT-2000. Three years later, Nokia embedded a version of Snake on their mobile devices. Tetris and Snake became the definitive early mobile games, pre-installed on hundreds of millions of devices across the world. With their simplistic pixel graphics and limited animations, these mobile games bear little resemblance to the bright graphics of modern apps.

However, they are not so different in their mechanics and gameplay. Snake and Tetris have clear and simple objectives, while there is a steady progression in difficulty as players look to reach new high scores. The idea of sitting down on a mobile phone for an extended period of gameplay seemed farfetched at the time, but a game like Snake was easy to dip in and out of on commutes or lunch breaks.

There’s an app for that

Every conceivable gaming genre is now represented in app form, a development set in motion on July 10, 2008. That date heralded the launch of the App Store, around a year after the release of the first-generation iPhone. Together with Android, the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry. Gone were keypads, stylus pens and low screen resolutions. In their place was an innovative touchscreen design, with twice the resolution of existing smartphones.

When combined with a greater graphical capability, the touchscreen gave mobile game developers the chance to experiment with more creative designs. The iPhone provided the platform for more complex mobile gaming apps, while the App Store gave consumers unprecedented access to a wide range of games. Arguably, the Store’s first big hit came in the shape of Angry Birds.

Developed by Rovio Entertainment and launched in 2009, Angry Birds surpassed half a billion downloads within two years of its release. The game tapped into what made Snake and Tetris so popular, with its charmingly simple gameplay and increasing difficulty. Angry Birds built on its gameplay through memorable comic characters, that have since become the stars of two movies.

Augmented reality

While Angry Birds has enjoyed the biggest crossover appeal of mobile gaming apps, it is far from being the only massive hit. Temple Run, Candy Crush, Words with Friends, and Flappy Bird are just four games that have become global phenomena in the past decade. 

Perhaps the most ground-breaking development in the evolution of mobile gaming apps in the past few years was the release of Pokemon Go. This augmented-reality game took the world by storm, with players required to explore physical environments to catch virtual monsters.

The future evolution of mobile gaming apps is widely expected to continue down the path of augmented reality, with Pokemon Go creator Niantic having also launched a similar AR Harry Potter game. While developers will continue to push new technological boundaries, there will always be a place for those mobile gaming apps that take their cues from Snake and Tetris.