♦ A mobile game is a game played on a mobile phone (feature phone or smartphone), tablet, smartwatch, PDA, portable media player or graphing calculator. The earliest known game on a mobile phone was a Tetris variant on the Hagenuk MT-2000 device from 1994.[failed verification]
In 1997, Nokia launched the very successful Snake. Snake (and its variants), that was preinstalled in most mobile devices manufactured by Nokia, has since become one of the most played games and is found on more than 350 million devices worldwide. A variant of the Snake game for the Nokia 6110, using the infrared port, was also the first two-player game for mobile phones.
♦ Today, mobile games are usually downloaded from an app store as well as from mobile operator’s portals, but in some cases are also preloaded in the handheld devices by the OEM or by the mobile operator when purchased, via infrared connection, Bluetooth, memory card & side loaded onto the handset with a cable.
Downloadable mobile games were first commercialised in Japan circa the launch of NTT DoCoMo’s I-mode platform in 1999, and by the early 2000s were available through a variety of platforms throughout Asia, Europe, North America and ultimately most territories where modern carrier networks and handsets were available by the mid-2000s. However, mobile games distributed by mobile operators and third party portals (channels initially developed to monetise downloadable ringtones, wallpapers and other small pieces of content using premium SMS or direct carrier charges as a billing mechanism) remained a marginal form of gaming until Apple‘s iOS App Store was launched in 2008. As the first mobile content marketplace operated directly by a mobile platform holder, the App Store significantly changed the consumer behaviour and quickly broadened the market for mobile games, as almost every smartphone owner started to download mobile apps.
♦ Towards the end of the 20th century, mobile phone ownership became ubiquitous in the industrialised world – due to the establishment of industry standards, and the rapid fall in cost of handset ownership, and use driven by economies of scale. As a result of this explosion, technological advancement by handset manufacturers became rapid. With these technological advances, mobile phone games also became increasingly sophisticated, taking advantage of exponential improvements in display, processing, storage, interfaces, network bandwidth and operating system functionality. The first such game that demonstrated the desire for handset games was a version of Snake that Nokia had included on its devices since 1997.
♦ The launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and the App Store in 2008 radically changed the market. The iPhone’s focus on larger memory, multitasks, and additional sensing devices, including the touchscreen in later model, made it ideal for casual games, while the App Store made it easy for developers to create and post apps to publish, and for users to search for and obtain new games. With several games released at launch of the App Store featured as rags to riches stories, developers drove to the iPhone and App Store. Further, the App Store added the ability to support in-app purchases in October 2009. This allowed games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope to find new monetization models away from the traditional premium “pay once” model. Meanwhile, Apple’s disruption caused the market to stabilized around iPhone devices and Google’s Android-based phones which offered a similar app store through Google Play.
♦ A further major shift game with 2012’s Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons, games that used a stamina-like gameplay feature found in social-network games like FarmVille to limit the number of times one could play it in a single period, but allowed optional in-app purchases to restore that stamina immediately and continue playing. This new monetization brought in millions of players to both games and million of dollars in revenue, establishing the freemium model that would be a common approach for many mobile game going forward. Mobile gaming grew rapidly over the next several years, buoyed by rapid expansion in China. By 2016, top mobile games were earning over US$100 million a year, and the total revenue for the mobile games sector had surpassed that of other video game areas.