The first handheld phone, Motorola’s DynaTec, was released in 1983. Nobody, except maybe for SF writers and dreamers, has thought that one day this bulky, basic device will be the gaming gadget of choice for billions of people worldwide, carving into the market of desktop PCs and consoles.
Because that’s exactly what phones did: since the release of the first smartphone in 2007, they have outgrown their competitors on the gaming market.
From Snake to smartphones – 10 years of evolution
“Snake” was the first successful game to run on a mobile device. Released in 1997, the Nokia 6110 contained a simple game where a pixelated line (the snake) had to collect pixelated rewards on the screen, continuing to grow with each pixel eaten. The game was surprisingly successful, especially since it had multiplayer capabilities (two 6110 users could play against each other through the phone’s built-in infrared port).
Unknowingly or not, Taneli Armanto – the engineer who programmed Snake – started a revolution, showing people their phones were good for more than just keeping in touch.
The following years have seen cell phones improve, with color screens, cameras, and music playing capabilities. And downloadable games, too – simple compared to what we like to play today, but amazing by those times’ standards. This was the time when the first mobile casino games were released, providing players with some online pokies fun on the go. But they were not a major success, as no other games were – their simplicity, and the small screens, prevented them from having as good a quality, and as much dedication, as today’s titles.
The smartphone (r)evolution
Then, in 2007, a new device was released to re-define the handset as we know it. The iPhone was not just a phone anymore, but a pocket-sized computer, capable of running a never before seen variety of apps and games. With all the smartphones released in the coming years, the improvement of their hardware, and the growth of their screens, they gave mobile gaming the boost it needed to become a massive success.
Smartphones – and HTML5, a cross-platform technology used by many game developers – gave online pokies a massive boost, too. The need for mobile gaming was always there, but it was not until the smartphones’ arrival when the games themselves could seriously improve their quality.
Smartphones also affected the development of mobile broadband, since they needed an internet connection to work at their best.
The improved capabilities, the cheaper and faster mobile internet, and the explosive growth of the number of available games has turned smartphones into the gaming device of choice for most people. And its market share will continue to grow in the coming years, bringing the best possible experience right to our fingertips.