Android is one of the biggest operating systems within the smartphone industry, allowing users to browse the web, connect with friends, family, and the wider world, and play games. Gaming on Android smartphones, in particular, has seen huge growth since the first Android smartphone launched in 2008, but how has gaming on mobile devices changed?
Mobile Gaming: The Early Days
Gaming has always been closely connected to mobiles, with older Nokia phones playing rudimentary but fun games like Snake. After years of these basic games, the mobile industry was shaken with the launch of the iPhone and first Android mobile the HTC Dream along with each operating system’s relevant app store which allowed users to download and install various applications.
This eventually included games and Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds, which released on iOS in 2009 and on Android in 2010, was one of the first smartphone-focused games to become popular for its casual but addictive gameplay and for its improved visuals over past games. The release of Angry Birds was eventually followed up by Cut The Rope, another game which proved to be popular among mobile gamers, and their success led to an increase in the number of puzzle games released for mobile platforms.
The industry was shaken up two years later with the release of Candy Crush Saga, a game featuring a system which limits progress or the number of times someone can play and forces users to wait a set amount of time before further play is allowed while encouraging the purchase of special power-ups to help progress through the game. Candy Crush proved successful, and still is today, and established what is now known as the freemium model (Free-to-play with in-game purchases available) which many mobile game developers have gone on to use now.
The Movement To Deeper Games
As the popularity of smartphones rose dramatically throughout the early 2010s, so did the number of people playing casual games on their phones. As smartphones developed and became more powerful, mobile games from all categories such a benefitted from the added power and from the mid-2010s developers began working on games offering deeper experiences and gameplay.
According to Mike Richardson from the gambling site Casinostoplay.com believes there is much more to come yet:
“If mobile technology continues to advance at this rapid pace, we will finally be able to see fully-interactive games such as virtual reality casinos and other FPS games. 2021 is surely going to be yet another interesting year for the online gaming industry.”
Electronic Arts (EA) released its mobile-based life-simulation game The Sims which offers huge customisation options and gameplay opportunities, and many development companies began working on mobile-friendly versions of popular console games. In 2019, Call Of Duty: Mobile was released which allowed fans of the franchise to play a somewhat lite version of the console game directly on their mobile devices.
Although these mobile games offered experiences closer to the high-budget and in-depth games available on home consoles, there was still a vast difference between them. Now, in 2020, however, even that is changing.
Console Gaming On Android Smartphones
In November 2019, Google launched Stadia, its cloud gaming service which allows users to stream video games over the internet in up to 4K resolution at 60 frames-per-second on various devices, including Android smartphones. Although the service was initially criticised for its somewhat buggy launch, many more users are turning towards the service to purchase and play new releases without having to purchase an expensive console or PC.
Similarly, Microsoft launched its xCloud service in September 2020, which allows users to stream games from a remote server directly to their Android smartphones. Like with Stadia, xCloud has been praised for providing gamers with a more affordable solution to playing the latest video games. However, xCloud is currently only available to Ultimate level subscribers of Xbox Game Pass but is expected to fully roll-out within the coming months,
Although similar, both services operate differently; xCloud will require an ongoing subscription to play a large catalogue of games while Stadia is free to join but requires users to purchase games at full price. Google’s service also allows users to subscribe to Stadia Pro, which offers instant access to a small selection of games, and users can also purchase Stadia controllers too.
Regardless, both services can be looked at as the emergence of a potential new trend in mobile gaming; the ability to play high-budget triple-A console video games on smartphone devices. With streaming more popular than ever, this could spark a significant change both within the mobile and console gaming industries.
If successful, these streaming services could lead to the eventual decline of console sales, particularly with Microsoft pushing for its subscription-based Game Pass service which can be played anywhere. However, something like this won’t happen for several more years, and until then, gamers are going to continue playing their favourite mobile titles on Android, and us too!