It’s hard to believe that 14 years ago the world was bereft of the smartphones that we all use regularly today. Back in 2006 the closest thing to a real smartphone was a bulky Blackberry with a clunky keyboard and a primitive keyboard.
One year later – in 2007 – Steve Jobs of Apple changed the world when he unveiled the very iPhone to an excited crowd of employees, journalists and technology buffs.
The iPhone would go on to revolutionize our relationships with our cell phones and spark an explosion in smartphone innovation, from Apple themselves and their Android competitors.
By the time that 2010 came around, smartphones had become commonplace, and the battle between Apple and Android was not just being fought over device releases but also over apps.
The 2010s, therefore, were somewhat of a golden age for mobile games, but which were the best? Read on to find out our top five.
- Casino Blackjack
The first entry on our list is not a specific app, rather it is more of a genre that was symbolic of the evolution of mobile gaming. Gambling has been a financially booming industry for centuries, but mobile technology really helped it to expand and grow in the past decade.
Online blackjack, a popular pastime with many gamers throughout the noughties made the move to mobile apps in the first couple of years of the 2010s. Its successful integration onto both Apple and Android prompted a number of other casino games like poker and roulette to take the same steps.
In the UK last year gambling brought in total revenues of £15 billion with almost a third of that revenue coming from mobile gambling apps. Without the example set by early pioneers, the gambling industry would not have been able to make such a success out of mobile gaming apps.
Individually, there is no one app from the 2010s that can be categorically judged as ‘great’, but the collective impact made by these apps has inarguably been just that.
- Doodle Jump
The first mobile game to really capture the public’s imagination was Doodle Jump, in which players would guide a four-legged creature called “The Doodler” up a series of endless platforms.
The game was originally released on iPhone midway through 2009 but didn’t become a worldwide craze until it was released on all platforms in 2010. During that year the app reached 25,000 daily downloads for four consecutive months, a record that would later be broken by the following app…
- Angry Birds
The game that broke Doodle Jump’s daily download record was Angry Birds, one of the most popular games of the past 10 years. The aim of the game was to use a series of multi-colored birds as ammunition to destroy pigs in increasingly difficult to break down fortresses.
Whereas Doodle Jump was an instant hit with fans, Angry Birds was consistently popular, remaining high up in the download charts way into the late 2010s. The game’s popularity was boosted by a series of successful media spin-offs.
The Angry Birds Movie, which was released in 2016 brought in Box Office revenues of $352.3 million. Commercially, the Angry Birds franchise has been perhaps the most successful mobile gaming franchise of the past decade.
(Angry Birds was developed when the Swine Flu epidemic was rife, so developers thought it would be apt to make pigs the bad guys in this game.)
- Pokemon Go
Released in 2016 by Niantic games, Pokemon Go was the first mainstream mobile game to successfully incorporate augmented reality (AR) into its gameplay. Players used their phone camera and GPS to explore their local area and catch pokemon in the ‘wild’.
In addition to finding pokemon hiding behind houses, players could also walk to local monuments which were often the sites of ‘gyms’ in which they could battle their pokemon against other players.
Niantic’s successful incorporation of AR made the game a hit with Pokemon nostalgists around the globe. By the beginning of last year, the game had over a billion downloads and had grossed $3 billion worldwide.
Despite the game’s success, it did come in for criticism after its release as stories emerged from countries all over the planet of avid pokemon hunters walking down busy highways or into restricted areas in search of rare finds.
The game did manage to withstand that controversy, and to this day remains one of the most popular mobile games ever made.
- Candy Crush
For decades gaming has been associated with children, teenagers and men in their early twenties and shunned, stereotypically by women and “adults”. Well, all that changed in 2012 when Candy Crush captured the imagination of Moms all around the world.
The incredibly simplistic game, which requires players to swap candies in order to eliminate rows or lines from the board found its early success on Facebook.
The game was free to play, but the hook was that players could pay to beat certain levels, making Candy Crush perhaps the first-ever ‘freemium game’.
After moving from Facebook to mobile apps, Candy Crush’s popularity really began to grow, with reports suggesting that at the peak of its power it was raking in almost $1 million a day in revenues.
Whilst Candy Crush may not be as popular today as it was at the beginning of the decade, it is without a doubt the most influential game of the 2010s. Candy Crush got your Mom into gaming, and your friend’s Mom, and your other friend’s Mom.
It changed the gaming industry irreversibly, introducing new demographics to gaming and pioneering the concept of ‘freemium’, which is now used on console games as well as mobile.
Like it or loathe it, you can’t deny it’s success, popularity and influence.