With millions of apps available at our fingertips, the days where mobile phones were quite literally just phones can be difficult to recall. So, where did it all begin? When did phones start to become more than just communication tools and start to become the handheld entertainment devices we use every day? From puzzles and role-playing titles, to online casinos, there are now thousands of games available to us at the push of a button. Here we’ll take a look back over the history of mobile phone gaming, starting with its humble beginnings on the Hagen MT-2000 back in 1994.
Tetris was already a widely popular video game when it became the first ever to be played on a mobile phone. It was a pre-installed version of the original and was only available on the Danish made Hagen MT-2000. Nowadays, it might not seem ground-breaking to feature a paired-down version of the famous shape-stacking game on a phone, however, just by doing so, the Hagenuk Corporation helped pave the way for what was to come.
Three years after Tetris hit phone screens, Nokia invented Snake. A highly addictive and now world-renowned game that saw the player manoeuvre the reptile towards food. As the snake grows with each bite and begins to move faster, the game becomes increasingly difficult. Snake was pre-installed on all Nokia mobile phones from 1997. To date it has been played on 350 million devices and is still enjoyed in its newer forms. A variety of Snake, available on the Nokia 6110, was also the first two-player mobile phone game ever.
Nokia N-Gage (2003)
As mobile phone companies began pre-installing more and more games on to their devices, Nokia eventually came up with an all-encompassing solution. At the same time mobile gaming devices like Nintendo Gameboys and eventually Nintendo DS, had also started to take over. The solution was the 2003 Nokia N-Gage, a mobile phone which doubled-up as a handheld gaming device. Unfortunately, the N-Gage wasn’t the success it was predicted to be. This was mostly down to its design which made many games difficult to play.
In 2007, the very first iPhone was released. With metal-casing and a 3.5 inch touchscreen, the smart phone paved the way for all the mobile phone games we love today. Whether you’re fan of iOS or Android operating systems the iPhone marks a defining moment in the history of mobile gaming. Its conception was the start of a new technological era which would lead the way for mobile games with crystal clear displays, complex modes of play and real life sound and visual effects.
The App Store (2008)
The birth of the iPhone leads us, inevitably, to the App Store. Whilst the store isn’t the only distributor of mobile games and serves only iOS users, it still represents an enormous leap in the evolution of the mobile phone game industry. After being launched on July 10, 2008, developers spotted an opportunity to create some of the most globally successful and enjoyable phone games in history. Following its opening, titles such as Fruit Ninja in 2010, Temple Run in 2011 and Candy Crush in 2012 began to make headlines. Not forgetting Angry Birds in 2009, which went on to become the very first commercially viable mobile phone game.