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How Mobile Gaming Has Influenced Smartphone Development

Friday, November 17, 2023 by Charles Karakas

How Mobile Gaming Has Influenced Smartphone Development

Mobile gaming and smartphones have a synergistic relationship, with each spurring advances and opening new markets for the other. In this article, we will focus on the evolution of mobile gaming, how hardware and software advancements have played a role in mobile gaming and the impact of mobile gaming on smartphone design. We will also explore how high speed connectivity has contributed to the boom in mobile gaming, the increased need for storage and the future of smartphones and mobile gaming.

With the arrival of the first popular mobile game, “Snake”, Nokia opened the door to mobile gaming. It was the arrival of the first smartphone in 2007, however, that really set the mobile gaming industry afire. In 2023, the mobile gaming marketplace will see revenues of €163 billion. Rapid advancements in smartphone technology, including faster processing power, improved graphic capabilities and enhanced connectivity speeds, have all contributed to the boom in smartphone-driven mobile gaming. The future should see even more growth, with the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR).

The Evolution of Mobile Gaming: A Historical Perspective

We have come a long way in mobile gaming since “Snake” was first introduced in 1997 on the Nokia 6610. In the 2000s, Alien Fish Exchange tapped into Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and allowed players to trade and sell fish to others. The debut of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and the App Store in 2008 opened the way for new mobile game developers to sell their titles directly to consumers. Viral hits followed, with the arrival of Angry Birds and the social-media based Farmville, which had 80 million players. 

Pokémon Go wove Augmented Reality and geo-location into an addictive and compelling mobile gaming experience. The demand for ever more sophisticated mobile games, coupled with the creativity of game developers and booming revenues, has also led to advances in smartphone technology. Device manufacturers have made major improvements in processor speed, advanced graphic processing units (GPUs) and high-resolution vibrant displays. 5G connectivity offers unparalleled connectivity speeds and low latency that helps create a seamless mobile gaming experience.

The Role of Hardware Advancements in Mobile Gaming

As the gaming world moved from PCs and consoles to mobile gaming, the need for advanced smartphone hardware quickly became apparent. Mobile gamers loved the gaming anywhere attribute of smartphones, and were looking for the same rich experience on their mobile devices. Smartphone developers wishing to tap into the booming mobile gaming market responded by adding storage, enhancing the battery life and improving memory capacities.

With mobile games and their rich immersive environments, there was also a need for enhanced display technology and high-quality graphics and sound. Capacitive touchscreens allowed gamers to have direct, intuitive interaction and multi-touch technology supports complex inputs and gestures. High resolution displays, along with better speakers, greatly enhanced the mobile gaming experience.

The Impact of Mobile Gaming on Smartphone Design

The tremendous demand for mobile gaming has led smartphone manufacturers to focus even more on screen size and ergonomic design. Technologies such as advanced intelligent displays provide an improved graphic experience and better panel power savings. Dedicated gaming smartphones have also been introduced into the market. Among the features of these devices are high-performance chipsets, 6.78-inch HD OLED displays and a refresh rate that is perfect for gamers.

These devices, along with some of the higher end smartphones in the general market, may also incorporate advanced cooling systems and physical triggers that pop up and can be used to control your gaming experience. All of these smartphones have the power you need to drive high-end gaming, and the battery capacity to allow for longer gaming sessions. 

Software Innovations Driven by Mobile Gaming

With smartphones, gaming has become more portable, more social and more accessible than it ever was before. The opening of the App Store in 2008 led to a seismic shift in the gaming industry. Developers could now unleash their creativity, and distribute and sell their new offerings directly to the public. Interested smartphone users could search for and source new game titles on the App Store. This led to smartphones becoming the most-played platform for gaming across the world.

Vast improvements in smartphone technology have also led to mobile gaming developments in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. With AR, players see characters in the game moving around in real life in front of them. This creates a fascinating environment that blends reality with the magic of the mobile game. VR lets players exist in a rich, immersive world that appears as its own version of real life. New technology promises to make these two environments even more compelling and feature rich than ever before.


The Influence of Mobile Gaming on Connectivity Features

One of the keys to smooth gaming on a mobile device is fast, stable Internet connectivity. In the early days, online connection reliability and speeds held back gaming. Now, with high speed home networks and 5G connectivity, multiplayer games can be played with friends across the world seamlessly on smartphones.

Bluetooth controllers have also enhanced mobile gaming. With these devices, you have more buttons and more precise control of a game when compared to touchscreens. They especially enhance the multi-player experience, and provide a console-like feel to gaming. The widespread introduction of 5G will continue to bring amazing benefits to mobile gaming. 5G provides incredibly fast, reliable connectivity. In addition, it offers low latency, which provides mobile gamers with response times that are near instantaneous.

The Implications of Mobile Gaming on Smartphone Storage

As developers add more features and experience to their mobile games, there has been an increased demand for larger storage options due to the increasing size of game files and updates. This, in turn, has led smartphone manufacturers to offer increased built-in storage capacities on their newer devices. Because of storage constraints, gaming companies sometimes only put a smaller installer in app stores and then download additional gaming assets as needed.

Fortunately, cloud gaming has emerged as a potential game-changer in the mobile world. With higher connectivity speeds over 5G, users can access a deep mobile gaming library and play their favourite games by accessing the cloud from their smartphone.

Mobile Gaming and the Future of Smartphone Development

Augmented and Virtual Reality will continue to shape and expand the mobile gaming market. These incredibly rich, immersive experiences are highly compelling and keep gaming users coming back for more. We’ll also see improved virtual reality headsets for mobile gaming. Another development to look for is voice control over voice commands. With this feature, mobile gamers will be able to direct their players by voice instead of having to use keys or buttons. Foldable screens will also increase display size for mobile gamers. 

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, will have a profound effect on mobile gaming. From a development standpoint, it will allow for improved animations and visuals, streamlined game development and a more engaging gaming experience. AI-powered animations and graphics will appear more life-like than ever before. High quality mobile gaming will also become more accessible to everyone, as advanced gaming features will increasingly be incorporated in mainstream smartphones.

Charles Karakas

Charles Karakas

Senior Product Manager - Mobile