Ten years ago, the mobile gaming revolution began.
The iOS App Store, which Apple launched ten years ago today, set off a revolution in gaming. Mobile games, which until then had been an underserved niche, exploded in popularity, becoming a pillar of the gaming market, attracting the masses of casual gamers that Nintendo had hoped to capture with the Wii, and going on to become the single largest segment of the gaming market by revenue.
The effects of the mobile gaming revolution can be felt to this day. Most major companies in the world- EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square Enix, Epic, Sega, The Pokemon Company, Konami, Sony, Microsoft, Take Two, even Nintendo– have mobile marketing strategies. Monetization and distribution methods popularized by smartphones, including free to play games and microtransactions and lootboxes, have become mainstays even of AAA console gaming. Nintendo’s Switch is a direct response to the rise of mobile gaming, which chipped away at so much of its previous console and handheld market.
As I am sure you have realized from reading that list above yourself, the App Store’s influence has not all been positive. While it gave a platform for indie games to do well, it devalued games with its race to the bottom mentality pricing, and led to the proliferation of popular exploitative strategies like loot boxes.
But the App Store, and indeed, the mobile market itself, is starting to stabilize now- and who knows, maybe, going forward, we will see it mature into a meaningful place to play great games on an ongoing basis. I sure hope we do. The potential of mobile as a platform for video games continues to remain immense.