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A Timeline of the Evolution in Mobile Gaming



Mobile gaming was once a forgotten corner of the gaming industry, with games dominated by high-tech consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

But now, thanks to the emergence of new technologies, mobile gaming has become the front runner once again. Mobile could even be the future of casino games, with an increasing number of players switching to playing casino games online, from anywhere, on their phones.

However, mobile gaming wasn’t always what it is today. From simple yet addictive games like Snake to free-to-download games packed with in-app purchases, here’s a brief history of the evolution of mobile gaming!

Snake: the birth of mobile gaming


Snake is one of the first mobile games we all remember; it was programmed in 1997 as an embedded application for Nokia phones. The idea came from Taneli Armanto, who designed the game to mimic the controls of old arcade games.

Millions of players continue to enjoy Snake to this day, as it is now available on Miniclip, iOS, and Android in various iterations.

Early smartphones

The first smartphones to appear on the market had a focus on email and data connectivity; however, they were also able to run mobile games. In 2005-2007, it became possible to play video games on smartphones using Java ME (Mobile Edition) technology that emulates desktop applications using hardware-accelerated graphics processors.

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The launch of the iPhone and growth in mobile gaming


The iPhone was announced in 2007 and was capable of running some simple 2D games that required minimal capabilities for the hardware at that time. The launch of iOS 5 improved performance significantly by adding support for OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics API along with many other improvements such as better battery life management.

In 2008, Apple launched the App Store. This was the watershed moment for mobile gaming. Before this, all mobile games were coded in Java and were not universally distributed by carriers. Games could now be distributed directly by developers or publishers to consumers through an app store.

This had two major effects on game development:

  • Developers could now focus on making great games rather than worrying about distribution and compatibility issues with a wide range of models and operating systems.
  • Players could access their favorite titles from any device that supported app stores, no matter which carrier they used or what platform they owned!

Early Android gaming

The first Android-powered device was sold in 2008, making Google a major player in the ecosystem of mobile games development and distribution.

HTC released the first Android device in 2008, and this marked the beginning of Google’s involvement in the mobile gaming ecosystem, an area it has continued to dominate ever since.

In-app purchases expand the mobile gaming market


Free-to-play games soon made their debut on mobile platforms. These so-called ‘freemium’ titles are free to download and play from the get-go, but they also include upgrades or features that cost real money.

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The format has proven incredibly lucrative for developers; freemium games typically earn more revenue than paid apps. They can be especially addictive because players have to wait for their energy levels to refill before continuing their progress in the game.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for users to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on these types of games over time. This group became known as “whales” – these are players who spend exorbitant amounts on digital content.


In 2011, HTML5 debuted, allowing web browsers to become compatible with mobile devices without any additional software or add-ons. Most smartphones support games that are coded this way without requiring any downloading or installing.

HTML5 is a markup language used to create web pages and applications. It was first standardized in 2014 by the W3C, and it has since become an open standard that can be supported by all browsers (including mobile devices). HTML5 allows developers to build rich user experiences with animations and graphics, as well as create interactive games that use the device’s touch interface.

Because of its ability to work across multiple platforms, HTML5 has become an attractive tool for game developers trying to reach a diverse audience of gamers across multiple platforms.


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