At the time of writing, usage of mobile devices is now ahead of usage of desktop PCs. In fact, in the United States alone, mobile device usage totalled 55% of all internet data in January 2017.
Almost half (47%) of which was app usage, which demonstrates the immense growth in popularity in mobile gaming.
The release of the Apple iPhone around a decade ago was perfectly timed to take advantage of what was a rather messy mobile gaming sector at the time. Meanwhile, access to broadband internet gave rise to gaming developers being able to distribute their titles online in additional to traditional boxed versions; thus drastically reducing manufacturing and distribution costs.
The success of the iPhone – and the rapid evolution of the App Store marketplace – encouraged the release of innovative gaming development apps such as Unity and GameMaker which enabled budding gamers to attempt to create their own mobile games without needing to know how to code.
One only needs to look at the explosion of the Angry Birds craze to see the potential for the mobile gaming marketplace. Created by Finnish-based Rovio Entertainment solely for the iOS platform, within 11 months of its release it had sold more than 12 million copies on the Apple App Store. Its simplistic design and gameplay gave Angry Birds a genuine pick-up-and-play gaming feel, with computers and gamers worldwide able to play on the go wherever they were. As of 2015, the game had been downloaded an eye-watering 2.5 billion times worldwide; suggesting it had everything the casual gamer wanted from their mobile gaming.
One industry that quickly acknowledged the potential to develop mobile gaming to broaden their consumer base was the iGaming sector. Rapid advancements of mobile app technology have seen pioneering iGaming software developers such as Microgaming and NetEnt along with innovation by iGaming operators such as Mr Smith have created a mobile casino experience that offers everything from HD-quality live streamed casino games to 3D slots games based on popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones and Family Guy. Better still, the use of HTML5 programming for mobile games has ensured a consistent user experience on all smartphone and tablet devices – perfect for those that like to have a casual bet on the move.
In 2009, around the time of the Angry Birds mobile gaming craze, revenues from online gaming via smartphone and tablet devices totalled $5.88bn. Fast forward to 2017 and PricewaterhouseCoopers anticipates revenue almost tripling to $14.41bn by the end of the year.
Put simply, consumers no longer have to be tied to their PCs if they want to play or bet online. The global gaming industry has sought to make themselves far more accessible, but they’ve equally had to adopt clever ways to capture the attention of their target audience. For instance, the iGaming sector has sought to provide exclusive deposit and player bonuses for mobile-only customers.
With the online casino industry going increasingly social and adopting virtual reality to create the most realistic gambling experience possible, it promises to be a fascinating few years as mobile technology seeks to align with virtual and augmented reality to create a unique online gaming experience for anything from sports and casinos to first-person shooters and sci-fi.