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Pocket Gamer 10th Anniversary

PG is 10: The History of Mobile Games - 2010

iPad lands, rockets take off, and Samsung's galactic rise begins
Product: Pocket Gamer 10th Anniversary | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android, DSi, iPhone, iPod, Mobile, N-Gage, PSP, Smartphone, iPad, 3DS, PS Vita
Pocket Gamer 10th Anniversary Android, thumbnail 1
This year, Pocket Gamer celebrates its tenth birthday.

In internet terms, that’s pretty ancient.

To mark the occasion, and to illustrate just how old and wise we are, we’ll be taking a look back at the games, trends, and general happenings for each of the years we’ve been around. (See 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.)

We’re finally out of the noughties and into the part of the 21st century we call… well, I’m not too sure what we call it. One thing I do know is that 2010 was a solid year for pocket gaming, and the year in which a whole new category of devices hit the market. We’re talking tablets.

What were we playing?
Looking back at the best iOS games of 2010, there was a nice balance of boundary pushers and reliable favourites. We got slick sequels in Real Racing 2 and Sentinel 3, original casual classics like Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja (one of the first titles to use Apple's then new Game Center for network muliplayer) and stunning technical showcases with Infinity Blade and Chaos Rings.

Also interesting was a new breed of tablet-only (at first) games such as Mirror's Edge, Monkey Island 2 Special Edition and World of Goo.

2010 was also the year that Android gaming finally took off. Buoyed by improved software and hardware (not to mention sales), developers started bringing across iOS classics like MiniSquadron and Flick Kick Football. Elsewhere, Reckless Racing was a high quality cross-platform release, while Hexage became our favourite Android-first developer with Everlands and EVAC.

In the world of dedicated handhelds, the Nintendo DS continued its graceful decline with the wonderful Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes and Pokemon HeartGold / SoulSilver.

The PSP, meanwhile, continued its sporadic brilliance with the vibrant Half-Minute Hero, and what was arguably the platform’s technical high-point in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

What were we playing on?
This was the year of the iPad. It’s difficult to recall here in 2016, but back in 2010 there were a lot of doubts about Apple’s pioneering tablet. ‘It’s just an oversized iPod touch,’ ventured some commentators.

It wasn’t, of course. Besides reinventing mobile computing, the iPad’s expanded canvass made it arguably the best way to play most iOS games.

This was also the year that Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4, a true design classic that went on to influence the next six years of smartphone design. Its new super-sharp Retina display really made mobile games pop, too.

Android was also starting to motor in 2010. The Nexus One was Google’s first self-endorsed phone, but it didn’t sell particularly well. The true Android star of the year was the Samsung Galaxy S – the first in the South Korean company’s prestigious flagship line, and arguably the first step on its path to smartphone dominance.

What else was going on in mobile?
Rumours had been going around since PG started in 2006, but Sony finally took the logical step of announcing a PlayStation Phone in March 2010. Of course, it wouldn’t launch for another year, so we’ll discuss it more in our next piece. Suffice to say it was a crushing disappointment.

While iOS and Android dominated the flourishing smartphone market in 2010, Microsoft finally announced its belated response. Windows Phone 7 was crisp and attractive, but it came too late and lacked the third-party hardware and (critically) app support enjoyed by its two big rivals. Microsoft has been playing catch-up on mobile ever since.

Elsewhere Palm, the struggling maker of the Palm Pre smartphone and its ahead-of-its-time webOS operating system, was acquired by HP to no great eventuality.

What else was PG doing?
In September, Steel Media launched the iPhone Quality Index, or Qi for short. This website brought together iOS game and app review scores from around the web and created a single definitive aggregate score.

Qi would go on to expand to include iPad and Android, and is tootling along nicely today. Basically, if really want to know what the critical consensus is for a mobile game, you check out Qi.

What else was happening?
The world was still suffering from the effects of the financial crisis in 2010, and we were given yet more reason to hate evil mega-corporations in April when the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill pumped 210 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Over in the United Arab Emirates, the 829.8-metre tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper opened to become the tallest artificial structure in the world. It still holds that title today.

While we’re on the subject of lofty achievements, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company created history when its Dragon rocket became the first private spacecraft to successfully return from low-Earth orbit. The commercial space race was well and truly on.

What's all this, then?

The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th - April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, Nordeus, and Ninja Kiwi. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.


Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 24 March 2016
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