Guest post written bu Justin Siegel
2011 was a momentous year for mobile gaming, filled with innovation, international mergers and acquisitions, the loss of a visionary, record-breaking sales, and an IPO with unexpected results.
Here’s a rundown on the 10 most influential events in mobile gaming in 2011:
- iPad and iPhone got more badass
“The best thing that happened is probably the iPad. It made gaming everywhere mainstream,” says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. What made the iPad so cool?
The introduction of the A5 chip allowed the iPad (and iPhone) to render graphics seven times faster, according to Apple. Titles like Infinity Blade 2, Real Racing 2 and The Dark Meadow showed how the additional power could be used to change the conception of what a mobile game can look like.
Apple also made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records, earning the ‘Fastest-Selling Portable Gaming System’ title for its smartphone. This shows that Apple devices pose a real threat to more traditional gaming systems. But Apple wasn’t the only rock star…
- Android rocked out their platform
Asymco estimates that the number of Android devices activated so far is between 224 million and 253 million. By comparison, Apple announced that a total of 250 million iOS devices have sold – including iPods and iPads. Android’s lower cost helped make it direct competition for Apple. Some online-only mobile phone distribution sites like Wirefly allow subscribers with any carrier to get an Android for free or little cost, while the iPhone is not distributed there.
In the past, many developers have focused on creating iPhone apps and games only. But as more consumers choose Android, some developers began creating Android-only apps, while others recognized the importance of cross-platform development.
- Mobile gaming reached the masses
People who never identified themselves as gamers before found themselves comparing Angry Birds scores, or even getting thrown off of planes because of a Words with Friends addiction. The iPhone, iPad and Android devices reached mass appeal, making mobile gaming easy and accessible. With no expensive console or controllers to buy, consumers could use their phone to play games. An important turning point came last year also; ComScore reported that more smartphones than feature phones were sold in 2011, and tablets have been selling like hotcakes.
- HP schooled the rest on tablet-nomics
In August, Hewlett-Packard announced its decision to stop producing the HP TouchPad tablet, and sell all remaining stock for $99 each.
Some in the tech world scoffed at the sale, saying that the tablet experience is deeply rooted to the app experience – which HP would not provide in the future. However, HTML5 can provide amazing experiences on WebOS devices; whether or not tthey were aware of this, consumers took the bait.
Stores were flooded, and quickly ran out of product. The HP tablet reportedly had the second-highest sales of all tablets in 2011.
The lesson? Consumers are eager to buy tablets if the price is low enough. Amazon kept this lesson in mind as they priced their Kindle Fire at an affordable $199, making it stiff competition to the iPad. Pricing tablets to move was key to increasing mobile gaming in 2011.
- Apple banned incentivized downloads – and Tapjoy created a work-around
Incentivized downloads – a way for publishers to get people to download their apps, often by offering virtual currency for games they were already playing – were wreaking havoc on Apple’s App Store free chart, which ranks the top apps by downloads. Apple claimed people were downloading apps just to get the currency, thus skewing the results for the top apps and games, and banned the practice.
Tapjoy – one of the companies most heavily impacted by the ban – fought back. The company launched the Android Fund to developers to port their apps to the Android platform, and offered ‘free marketing credits’ additionally. Tapjoy also launched a Web app that iOS users may download to earn virtual currency. Tapjoy taught us that the mobile Web is a powerful tool for mobile gaming – no app store necessary.
- Flash fizzled, HTML5 got hot