10 Years of iPhone Gaming

On the 29th June this year, Apple will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first generation iPhone being released. It is difficult to believe that a decade has past since that revolutionary moment in the mobile industry. To mark the pivotal date, here is a look at how mobile gaming has evolved on iPhone devices over the years.

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The first generation iPhone changed the world of mobile gaming forever

iPhone (2007)

The first ever iPhone launch was a big deal for Apple and the developer was keen to make a huge impression when the device was released. It managed to pull off such a reaction when a mobile version of the iconic SEGA console game Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the first generation iPhone. Not only was the game a high quality translation of the console version but it was even considered superior to the original title. The days of Snake on the Nokia were long gone. Mobile gaming had officially entered the mainstream.

iPhone 3G (2008)

Just one year later, Apple confirmed the release of the iPhone 3G. The device boasted 3G internet connection and this opened up a gateway of possibilities for mobile gaming. The launch of the App Store on the iOS changed the face of mobile gaming by allowing developers somewhere to sell their products and for players to easily download games at the touch of a button. The iPhone 3G also benefited from being launched simultaneously with iOS 2.0. Players were now able to access a range of mobile games online. Social game developer Zynga launched Chess with Friends to show just how mobile gaming could work on a social level. 

iPhone 3GS (2009)

It was not until the iPhone 3GS was released in 2009 that the viral impact of mobile gaming could really be appreciated. The “S” in the name stood for “Speed” and this improved the quality of gaming. A little known software developer by the name of Rovio Entertainment released a mobile game called Angry Birds. The game would go on to become its own franchise that would spawn a number of sequels and a Hollywood movie. In its various guises, it has been downloaded more than 3 billion times. Other iconic titles initially released for this device included Words with Friends, Plants vs Zombies, and Fruit Ninja.

iPhone 4 (2010)

Arguably, the most highly-anticipated feature on the iPhone 4 before its release was the new high-resolution retina display. This was introduced by Apple to deliver better graphics on the screen without affecting the size or design of the product. Steve Jobs bragged that this was the thinnest smartphone in the world at the time and this made it a very popular device with mobile gamers. Developer Zepto launched the ground-breaking Cut The Rope mobile game. It would prove to be such a hit that it would be downloaded over 600 million times. The release of the first of the Infinity Blade series by Chair Entertainment was also seen as a defining moment. 

iPhone 4S (2011)

The release of the iPhone 4S is poignant due to the announcement of the death of former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs the day after the device’s release. On this version, the “S” in the name stood for “Siri” which was the intelligent personal assistant installed on every device. The device also came with iOS 5.0 and delivered the iCloud with vastly improved processing speeds and graphics. This allowed for the first ever big name mobile casinos to enter the fray. Double Down Interactive launched their DoubleDown Casino. It would open the flood gates for developers to invade the mobile casino market. In just a matter of years, the mobile casino gaming revenues would increase tenfold with the US and CA leading the way. The device also saw the release of titles such as Supercell’s Clash of Clans, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season One, and Fire Proof Studios’ The Room.

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DoubleDown Casino was a pioneer for mobile casino gaming

iPhone 5 (2012)

The release of the iPhone 5 allowed developers to flex their creative muscles a bit more. The bigger 9:16 ratio screen allowed for mobile gaming to become more appealing to users on the go. This was aided by the lighter aluminium-based design. Need for Speed: Most Wanted by Criterion Games and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City by Rockstar North were just two examples of the potential that could be reached. This device also heralded the release of the hugely popular Candy Crush Saga from King and Flappy Bird by dotGEARS.

iPhone 5C & 5S (2013)

The iPhone 5C and 5S were released at the same time. The varying price of both devices opened up the iPhone to a larger market with players on a budget now able to afford a device. This exposed the games available in the App Store to a wider audience. This saw games such as Batman: Arkham Origins by NetherRealm Studios, Boom Beach from Supercell, and Monument Valley developed by Ustwo earn massive followings and download figures. Mobile gaming was going from strength to strength.

iPhone 6 & 6 Plus (2014)

If you haven’t heard about e-sports being the next big thing along with virtual reality then you must have been living under a rock for the past two years. E-sports can partially attribute their global popularity nowadays to the foundations established by the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in 2014. The devices offered a 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch screen respectively as well as faster processing speeds and more efficient Wi-Fi access to make playing e-sports games such as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft more attractive on the mobile platform. Things would never be the same again.

iPhone 6S & 6S Plus (2015)

Crucial innovations on the mobile platform such as 3D Touch and updated hardware features were included in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus releases. This allowed developers such as Square to fulfil the potential of their Final Fantasy IX game. Mobile gaming was now able to add more depth and content. It had now become possible for mobile devices to offer gaming on a level that would rival earlier generations of computer consoles.

iPhone SE (2016)

If there is one game that sums up the iPhone SE release then it is Pokemon GO. Released by Niantic in the summer of 2016, just a matter of months after the iPhone SE’s launch, it revolutionized mobile gaming by using camera technology to allow players the chance to catch pokemon in a real-life setting. Mobile gaming had officially taken its first tentative steps into the virtual reality realm.

iPhone 7 & 7 Plus (2016)

The launch of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus at the back end of 2016 left a world of potential ahead for the mobile industry in 2017. The capabilities of mobile devices now mean games such as the live action thriller Bunker are now possible. There is also talk of virtual reality casinos one day transferring to the mobile platform. The possibilities are limitless. These are exciting times for mobile gaming.

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Amol Wagh

Author of Game Marketing Book: Market Your Indie Game Like A Pro! 7 years of Tech Blogging & Digital Marketing. Co-founder at Dotline Inc & a Gamer. Follow me on Twitter @amolwagh, @amol.wagh