Mobile gaming has come a long way since the introduction of simple and crude games like Snake and Pong that were available on early Nokia phones. Mobile processors and graphics are now as powerful as desktop computers were just a few years ago. Older generations still remember lugging around a Game Boy or Game Gear and begging their parents for another game. The new generations literally have access to hundreds of thousands of games on their mobile device.
In short, mobile gaming has exploded in just a few years. In the month of July 2016, 63.1 million arcade games were downloaded, and games in the “strategy” category generated revenue of $195 million. In a recent study, more than 37% of mobile app users with 30 minutes of free time choose to play games over any other activity. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all done it ourselves, whether waiting for a date or sitting in the airport, we pull out our mobile device and jump into a quick game to kill time.
So what does all this mean for the future of Android gaming? To begin with, the huge amounts of revenue and user interest in Android games have fueled continuous innovation and fierce competition in the global market. For example, just 12 months ago, senior executives were saying they didn’t see any significant benefit from augmented reality. With Pokemon Go launching and estimates trading up to $500 million in revenue in just 60 days, I think we can all agree that augmented reality is here to stay.
Virtual reality is another area that has gained strength in recent months. You can now buy virtual reality headsets at local gas stations for just $30. Or if you’re on a budget, you can buy Google Cardboard for as little as $7.00. There are still only a limited number of VR-enabled games, but that number is increasing daily. Not only that, as more and more people experience virtual reality, we are sure that sooner or later we will see a blockbuster launch.
Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of recent game releases. Dawn of Titans, which was recently released on Google Play, has been in development for more than 2 years. This is similar to the development cycle of a mid-tier PC game release on Steam. The game features mass controlled troops, world building elements, and stunning graphics. A few years ago, this would be considered a major release for the Android platform. These days, this is just another drop in the huge pond. With over 2.4 million apps and games currently listed on Google Play, it’s getting harder to stand out. Actually, this is good news for gamers as developers are working harder and faster to create innovative new titles to attract users.
I strongly believe that both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) titles will gain more traction in 2017. Major developers who can churn out triple-A content can’t be left behind as indie developers pump out AR and VR-enabled games. . They will be forced to port existing titles and discover exciting new ways to interact with mobile devices.
There are many nifty games available that use your phone’s microphone, gyroscope, camera, and accelerometer. However, these sensors combined with AR and VR could bring a whole new experience to gamers. Imagine walking through a recreated 3D world that represents your neighborhood, immersed in full virtual reality, and using your phone as a guidance device to fend off waves of zombies. This is already possible with the technology available, it just needs to be packaged in a user-friendly way that people can enjoy.
Combining meticulous graphics with well thought out VR experiences would be truly impressive. If you’re familiar with PC-based VR demos, you already know how immersive the experience can be. It’s only a matter of time before these same experiences reach our mobile devices en masse. And to think, just 30 years ago we were playing Mario on our beloved Nintendo consoles. Not to mention the Virtual Boy that burned your eyes after 2 minutes of playing tennis. Android games and mobile games in general have come a long way since then and will continue to push barriers even further in the near future.