Mobile gaming as we know it today has been around for a little more than a decade. In that time, we’ve grown used to the idea of being able to download games at the touch of a screen. We’ve also come to expect seamless online multiplayer in the palms of our hands, and we’ve come to appreciate more advanced gaming experiences — some of which are akin to those offered by console-quality games.
As much as mobile gaming has developed and evolved over the years though, one thing that appears certain is that it’s nowhere near finished. This medium is going to continue to change, expand, and improve in the years ahead, and every now and then it’s fun to stop and consider what this might all mean.
Accordingly, we’ve put together some educated predictions as to what the future of mobile gaming might hold.
More Controllers (and Accompanying Games)
We have reviewed mobile controller attachments in the recent past, and the truth is they’re getting quite good. These are compact, well-designed accessories that hook up to our phones (or in some cases connect to tablets) to provide handheld controls for gaming apps. And as mobile games continue to get bigger and more sophisticated, it’s a safe bet that these controllers will come in handy more often. We expect to see more of them becoming available, as well as more advertisement for them. Additionally, if controllers for mobile devices become more common, we’d expect to see more games developed with full controls (as opposed to just touchscreens) in mind.
Mixed Reality Tabletop Games
Back in 2016, an article on CNBC stated that the millennial generation was “driving the board games revival.” There were measurable spikes in board game popularity at the time, and in the five years since those spikes have proven not to have been flukes. Board games remained popular, and if anything the pandemic only helped them become more so in 2020. Building on this trend, we expect to see mixed reality — that is, VR and AR — presenting a sort of blend between in-person and mobile board gaming. Specifically, we expect to see a variety of apps emerging that allow people to engage in online multiplayer gaming via projections and simulations of board games in augmented or virtual reality.
Mixed Reality Casino Games
In a similar vein to tabletop games, it’s essentially inevitable that we’ll soon see the emergence of mobile casino games in mixed reality. For those who are used to mobile and online casino gaming, this might sound less natural given that so much of the category revolves around slots. But the truth is the concentration of slots on casino gaming platforms is almost somewhat misleading. According to a Gala Casino article on the most popular games, it is actually the tabletop experiences — games like blackjack, poker, and roulette — that players like the most. This means there’s a significant population of gamers who would likely welcome augmented or virtual reality versions of these particular games (even if it’s a little bit harder to imagine slots in AR). This, plus the fact that casino game providers never seem to miss opportunities, means mixed reality casino table games are certainly in our future.
Periodic Major Adaptations
This isn’t necessarily a change, but it is a subtle trend we expect to see more of. In just the last few years, we’ve seen major gaming series like Super Mario and Pokémon make their way into mobile gaming spheres. We also see more and more console-based franchises regularly putting out mobile counterparts to their larger games. So as we contemplate the near future of mobile gaming, it’s only natural to expect periodic adaptations of major games and series.
Most are familiar with the game Pokémon GO as one that not only became a viral hit but got people outside and into the real world at the same time. What some don’t recognize though is that the Pokémon hit wasn’t alone. A handy rundown at Pocket Tactics reveals a number of fun games that are “location-based” in similar ways, from Ingress Prime to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. And it’s a simple reality that as augmented reality becomes more advanced in our mobile devices (perhaps including smart glasses), games like these will become more capable. We’ll certainly be seeing more location-based, real-world experiences in mobile gaming.
More trends and developments than these will emerge in the coming years also. But even the possibilities listed above make for an exciting future for the category.