If you went back in time, maybe to the point where the Nokia N-Gage had just gloriously flopped, and told everyone that a sizeable chunk of the global gaming market wouldn't be eaten by console or PC gaming, then not many people would have fancied your theory. Jump forward a decade or so, and mobile games are a $108.9 billion industry, with Android games in particular contributing to a gaming industry that is beginning to offer the same opportunities to independent developers as it is to the AAA studios with budgets in the millions.
It's worth noting that mobile gaming is set to grow too, with gaming industry watchdogs Newzoo predicting 20% growth next year, and a 42% market share of the entire gaming industry. Simply put, mobile gaming is both big business and very attractive to serious gamers.
Each new release is less time-filler designed for train or bus journeys, and more sprawling RPG, shooter, or strategy title, designed to offer way more scope than the simple game apps that first appeared on mobile. The following five games are all great examples of just how far Android games have come, all offering plenty of entertainment, excitement, and replay value.
Player Unknown's Battlegrounds Mobile
Player Unknown's Battlegrounds became a smash hit shooter thanks to the survival elements and relatively simple gameplay that allows up to 99 people to try and murder each other in a virtual world. Limited to PC and eventually console, PUBG is now a mobile game, with players able to enjoy the same battle royale gameplay on the way to work.
Parachuting onto Erangel Island, you'll need to gather weapons and supplies before other players get there first, before finding a decent spot and protecting yourself. Players can team up, go it alone, or simply hide and try to snipe others as they run past looking for more ammo, great fun if you enjoy console games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
The controls may be a little more fiddly than if you were using a controller, and there's only one map that can be played, but name one more app where you can stalk your competition, before pinching their supplies after you've downed them – we bet you can't.
Pokémon Go maybe be getting old, but frequent updates and a still huge userbase are making sure that this best-seller is still riding high in the charts. Bringing the classic Gameboy games and series of cartoons, collector's cards and toys into the 21st century, Pokémon Go is a mixture of augmented reality battle game and geo-caching, expect with digital monsters rather than hidden treasure. Collecting 'em all is the name of the game, but you can also interact with other Pokémon trainers, and of course battle your captured Pokémon just like in the original games. Now an oldie, but definitely still a goodie.
Our pick when it comes to slot games, Fluffy Favourites is a fun 5 reel spinner that doesn't take itself too seriously. If you love the stuffed animals you'll win on the claw grabber machines, then Fluffy Favourites is definitely the game for you, with everything from cuddly lions to cute giraffes.
Like other online slot games, Fluffy Favourites players can wager coins on each spin of the reels, with prizes and coin payouts when symbols are linked together. The best thing about Fluffy Favourites is that it's pretty easy to get the hang of gameplay, and the slick, fun animations keep things interesting even after a few hours of game time. There's also plenty of great bonus features, including a collector mode, with rewards for each cuddly character you collect!
Real Racing 3
If you like console racing games like Gran Turismo and Forza, then Real Racing 3 is the game you need for on-the-go racing. The huge selection of tracks, decent car variety and campaign mode that is reminiscent of early Gran Turismo games. The best feature of Real Racing for us however is the fact that you can actually turn the wheel of the car by tilting your phone, making gameplay even more immersive. You can also customise your car's colour, engine and give it boosts, giving you the edge over not only AI drivers, but also real-life competitors.
Yes, real racing has multiplayer mode over the internet, and races can get really exciting, especially if you're up against good drivers. Racing against real-world players earns extra in-game currency, and good racers will be able to collect new cars and improvements faster as they level up and win more races.
If you get tired of playing mobile games that require you to spend hours alone staring at the screen, then Spaceteam is the loud and angry answer to your problems. Billed as a 'cooperative shouting' game, players must carry out repairs to their spaceships with help, guidance and screaming from their friends who are also in the game. Good teamwork will only take you so far too, with each level becoming more complicated and puzzle solving elements coming into play that really shake up your ability to give clear, easy to understand messages!
The good news for mobile gamers is that games will only continue to get better too. With better technology in phones providing improved graphics and processing power, gaming companies will also be putting more money into development if more people are playing games, and therefore spending money on either downloads of microtransactions. Despite there being some great potential for upgrades to games like PUBG, we're most excited about some sort of 3D Spaceteam, with shouty space travel given a whole new dimension…