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 IPAD FEATURE

The 6 most important things that happened in mobile gaming in 2015

Nintendo, touching, VR
Product: Nintendo Mobile | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
 
2015 Trends

It's the end of the year. And what a year it's been in the mobile gaming sphere.

There have been some truly seismic shifts in the way we consume our mobile entertainment, so we thought it'd be a good idea to look back at some of the biggest.

Most of these things are going to have reverberations into the new year too, so consider this your cheat sheet if anyone asks you about the big things that happened in the last twelve months.

Agree, disagree, think something else should have made our list? Well chuck your own ideas in the comments then. And here's to another brilliant year of mobile gaming.

Nintendo going mobile

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It's hard to write anything about mobile gaming this year without mentioning the biggest news of the year – the Big N finally taking the plunge into the mobile arena.

Sure, we might not have seen any of the actual games that are going to come from the partnership between DeNA and Nintendo, but just the fact that the Japanese console giant has announced that it's going mobile is news enough to make the top of our list.

Will the future be Mario auto-runners and free to play Animal Crossing / Farmville mash-ups? Well it's still a bit too early to tell, but you can bet that Nintendo will do something unexpected with its mobile games.

It is, after all, what it's renowned for.

In fact, can you think of any other developer that would release a bizarre automated chat program as its first app? I certainly can't, but it's innovation and new thinking like that that makes Nintendo going mobile so darn interesting.

Big devs shifting focus to mobile too

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Of course, Nintendo wasn't the only dev to make a big lurch towards mobile gaming this year. Konami revealed that, apart from a select few titles, it's going to be focusing on phone and tablet gaming in the future.

Square Enix did the same, and we're already seeing the fruits of that labour in the excellent GO series.

These are traditional, massive developers and publishers who are starting to realise that mobile represents the future, or at least a good part of the future, of video games.

It's a shift we've seen coming for a while now, but it's interesting how it's starting to play out. Yes, most of the money is in iOS gaming right now, but what are the likes of Square and Konami likely to bring to the App Store?

Well, a wealth of classic franchises, decades of gaming experience, and hopefully some new ideas that are going to move mobile in intriguing directions.

Oh, and Activision bought King for more than Disney paid for Star Wars. It is a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

3D Touch

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A bit of a leftfield one this, but Apple's introduction of a new kind of touchscreen has huge ramifications for mobile gaming.

We haven't seen them yet, save for in a handful of games, but pressure sensitive touch is likely going to revolutionise the way we play.

It gives developers far more scope for complex and intuitive control schemes, allowing them to use finer levels of input, and even opening up the possibility of delivering specific feedback to you fingers.

The lack of quality control schemes has often been a major bugbear of players coming over to mobile from console and PC, and while there are some brilliant games on the App Store that utilise the hardware, it's still a barrier that more traditional players need to get over.

While MFi controllers might have been an attempt to clamber over that barrier, 3D Touch is a move to a more interesting and accessible solution.

It's going to be very exciting to see how things develop once the technology becomes more wide spread.

Time's game of the year being mobile again

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Last year the spectacularly good 80 Days sat at the top of Time's game of the year list. We thought that was pretty damn cool: a sign of the mainstream recognition that mobile games were deservedly starting to acquire.

Well this year the publication has only done it again. This time around the fantastic Prune, one of only a handful of games to ever pick up a coveted Pocket Gamer Platinum Award, is in the number one spot. And, if you ask us, it's well deserved.

There were plenty of games this year that proved just how brilliant mobile gaming can be. The Room 3 and pretty much everything Nitrome has released to name but a few. And Prune is another wonderful example.

It shows that games built from the ground up for mobile can be accessible, can be brilliantly playable, and can reach mainstream recognition in ways that used to be reserved for console and PC gaming.

The rise of VR

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If you ask a lot of people at Pocket Gamer towers, they'll tell you that 2016 is going to be the year of VR. And if the growth of the industry this year is anything to go by, then it's going to be enormous.

We're not just talking about the higher end devices though, we've seen innovation at multiple entry levels, from Google Cardboard-style DIY builds to full goggle models that you only need to spend around £50 on.

Then there's the innovation in the games as well. At the shows we've been to this year we've seen some really exciting experiences that just wouldn't work on anything other than a virtual reality headset.

From space-based dog fights to excruciating torture scenes, it feels like VR is opening up entirely new avenues of play, and 2015 was the year when those avenues really started to come to fruition.

Game of War at the Super Bowl

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This one might not have made that many ripples on this side of the pond, but if you want a prime of example of the clout of mobile games, look no further than the half time advert breaks in the Super Bowl.

Three mobile games were included, spending a grand total of $11.25 million on one minute and 15 seconds of air time. Yup, you read that right.

Kate Upton and Liam Neeson lead the line for Game of War and Clash of Clans respectively. And Heroes Charge showed some heroes charging. It only had half the time of the other two though. Cheapskates.

Elsewhere you might have spotted another Clash of Clans advert starring James Corden and Christoph Waltz at the start of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Or ones featuring that guy from Hot Tub Time Machine for a game that I've forgotten the name of.

Basically mobile gaming is ridiculously big. It might even be massive. Absolutely bloody massive. Humongous, titanic. Just, you know, big. And it's only going to get bigger on 2016. So watch this space.
 

Reviewer photo
Harry Slater 23 December 2015
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