Almost everybody has at least one device, with a study from Pew Research noting that 95% of Americans have some kind of phone in their pockets. The adoption of the smartphone has been rapid, ballooning from 35% of the American population in 2011 to 77% by November 2016. It’ll come as no surprise to learn that people are using these devices to play table games – an activity which used to be shared with friends.
Perhaps one of the inevitable developments for mobile devices was the appearance of gaming, beginning with Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000 in 1994. The popular Snake game, itself a copy of an arcade title called Blockade, was a comparatively late arrival, debuting on the Nokia 6610 in 1997 and appearing on more than 400m devices in later years according to Pocket Gamer. The rest is old news – games got bigger and more complex with each new device generation.
Today, the word “innovation” is almost inextricably linked with Pokémon GO on mobile. The game’s incredible fame cloaked the fact that the augmented reality (AR) central to its gameplay isn’t all that novel (Niantic’s original AR game Ingress came out in 2012 but SpecTrek and Clandestine Anomaly, among others, carry the flag for the technology outside the Californian company). However, there’s more to mobile gaming than trespassing in pursuit of a Sudowoodo, like the playing table games on them.
Casino Table Games
Classic table games experiences like roulette, blackjack, and baccarat have found a following on mobile. Their simple rulesets and gameplay permitting an easy transition to the touchscreen environment. For example, the 32red mobile casino has all of the previous table games in its mobile app, equating to more than 100 different experiences playable anywhere. To quote the brand, its portable offering is casino put “through a hot wash” – or shrunk.
But why play table games on mobile? Ignoring the obvious convenience, gaming “on the go” offers much the same functionality as the desktop version of a game, including access to promotions – 32Red’s Android, Windows, and iOS apps give players an extra £32 for every £10 deposited. Mobile support is ubiquitous in the iGaming niche; UK brand Slot Boss has an iOS app with 200 slot games while PlayOJO’s site is optimized for tablet and mobile play.
Mobile leads over desktop for sheer variety. For better or worse, the various app stores have hundreds of different board, card, and table games, many of which are free or free to play. For example, the computer card game genre – the domain of titles like Hearthstone, Pokémon TCG Online, Gwent, and Triple Triad (via the Final Fantasy Portal app), has turned a social game into a global phenomenon and bust traditionally table games journeys into the highlight of the work day. The accessibility of mobile play is central to that popularity.
Table games joining the high-tech future is only one part of a wider phenomenon though; increasingly, the reverse is happening – there’s a precedent for video game franchises adopting the dice over the controller. For example, a board game adaptation of Dark Souls is the third highest funded game in Kickstarter history. XCOM, The Witcher, Portal, Gears of War, and Bioshock Infinite also exist in low-tech form.
Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Retro table games like Catan, Battleships, Carcassonne, and Mahjong have joined the ranks of mobile games recently, offering the benefit of skipping the setup and inevitable violence that accompanies the average Monopoly game. Titles in the niche usually include different ways to play – a retro-styled “pass and play” mode, which lets two people share a single device, and the online matchmaking customary to modern multiplayer games.
Whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons or poker, the traditional offline experience has always been hamstrung by the need to have a) some friends and b) at least one other person interested in dusting off the Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Removing that barrier is arguably the biggest victory of mobile gaming over its table games counterpart; with online play, even the loneliest troglodyte can find a Hearthstone or bridge opponent on a Friday evening.
Increasingly, the mobile environment provides a means to play anything, from any time period, anywhere. Even emulating classic games on your iPhone is easy. The absence of Hasbro’s Operation from the App Store has been noted, though.
Which table games to you enjoy on mobile devices?