Smart phones have become much more than a fancy way to call your friends and browse social networks and tablets have come a long way since the PDA. One of the biggest changes in the mobile device market has been the focus on gaming. Smart phones and tablets are being designed to be more powerful simply to handle bigger and better games. Developers recognize the potential and every day, gamers see more high profile titles like Call of Duty and Need for Speed hit the market.
Mobile gaming has developed beyond time-wasters like Snake and has become a viable platform for interesting game design opportunities and for independent developers. With Android’s open-source operating system and Apple’s user-friendly market space, anyone can develop an app and place it up for purchase. This opportunity is used often by both AAA and independent developers and with good reason. According to a report by Pew Internet, “nearly half of American adults are smartphone owners”. That is a large market of possible gamers and developers know it. Many major releases released on the big consoles now get some sort of app or mobile game released alongside it.
That doesn’t mean the market isn’t open for new releases either though. Rovio Entertainment developed Angry Birds on iPhone in 2009 and found immediate success. The game features the use of deadly birds on a slingshot thrown out to destroy evil pigs. The aviary slinging hit brought in nearly 106 million dollars in 2011 and over a billion downloads across all platforms as of last year.
On a smaller, but equally impressive scale is the success of Halfbrick Studios Fruit Ninja series. Released in 2010 on both Android and iOS, the Fruit Ninja series features a simple concept. Players use their fingers as swords to cut up and slash through any type of fruit, create combos and to avoid bombs. It quickly brought in some juicy numbers with 300 million downloads last year, making it the second best-selling game on Apple’s App Store.
With gamers who are busy with work and school, the appeal is obvious. To be able to play a game, whether it is deep and inventive or small and silly, while you are out and about and for a small price of admission? It just makes sense.
The mobile gaming market represents a revolution for game developers and gamers alike. Simple game design, short development processes, easy to use stores and large markets are perfect for the independent developer or even the game design student.
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