Is mobile gaming the next big thing?

I think we can say without being mistaken that smartphones are the most popular gadgets right now. Everyone wants to own one, preferably a shiny new model with a gazillion gigabytes of RAM, as many processor cores as manufacturers can stuff into that thin body, with cameras of zillions of megapixels and internet connections as broadband as it can be.

The first big screen smartphone with just one button – the iPhone – has forever changed the way people look at their mobile telephones. It was the first to have a large touchscreen, just one button, a powerful hardware and an innovative user interface – actually it was a pocket computer with no keyboard. It has launched a "revolution" – it has opened new horizons not just for mobile network operators and their data plans, but also for developers. It has spawned a whole new breed of mobile applications – apps – complete with their respective app stores.

Phone-and-Games

The online gaming industry – iGaming, as stakeholders call it – is not an old one either. It has a history of 20 years – the first real money online casino has been launched in 1994 by Microgaming, a company based in the Isle of Man. It has grown considerably in two decades, becoming one of the most successful online industries – not as big as web search and social networking, but considerable nonetheless. After 2007 the new platform – mobile – was open for this industry, too, and the need for playing casino games on the go was (and is) existent, so the first mobile casinos soon followed.

Mobile gaming has its barriers, though – mostly legal, as mobile gaming is insufficiently regulated, but also moral, as casino gaming, poker and sports betting is in many countries considered a bad thing. Google’s app store – the Google Play Store – still does not accept gambling-related content (Apple’s App Store had the same restriction in place until recently). The development of mobile gaming is seriously slower than it could be.

Another factor that slows the development of mobile gaming is the attitude of certain operators towards it. Although there are various solution available, certain operators – like the Fortune Lounge group, one of the oldest in the industry – seem not to have interest in developing serious mobile solutions. Their flagship casino, the Royal Vegas, has an extensive instant and downloadable offer, but only a very restricted one on mobile. You can download Royal Vegas online casino software with over 500 titles at any time, or play over 150 games in your browser window, but when it comes to mobile, the number of games barely reaches 20. A huge difference.3

Other operators – mostly "full service" outlets based in Europe – have much more diversified mobile offers, many native apps for the most popular operating systems – iOS and Android – and mobile browser versions for other operating systems, such as Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and others, and even Java versions for older platforms.

Mobile gaming will develop slowly without a unified approach to it – and this is what the iGaming industry lacks at this time. In my opinion, though, mobile gaming is the next big thing – desktop PCs will slowly be replaced by portable, even wearable devices, so it would be time to start looking more into mobile.


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