Smartphone gaming sometimes feels like a relentless rush forward. There are new apps being created every day, and while the odds are low for any one in particular to succeed, the good ones rise to the top pretty naturally. That means there’s always a new, exciting game to try out, or even a whole new genre starting to emerge.
In the past year or so though, we’ve started to see some bigger changes in how Android users are able to approach gaming. They’re not all changes that you’d necessarily notice when you open up the Google Play store, but they’ve all had significant impacts on the market as a whole.
The most subtle change was probably Google’s decision to change how permissions were handled for games, so as to make it easier for players to sign up for in-game transactions. The move was made as a means of catching up to Apple, which has always had more of a built-in method for gamers to pay for material within games. The Android operating system had to be altered to make it happen, but it’s now easier for users downloading mobile games from the Google Play store to enjoy all aspects of those games seamlessly.
A bigger shift in Android gaming came when Google released its Pixel smartphone last year, and the Daydream VR headset along with it. The announcement came out of nowhere, but it situated Google as the chief competitor to Samsung in the mobile-based VR business. We’ve seen Android programs working with VR headsets before through those same Samsung phones, but this maneuver by Google represented another step forward and a significant shift in gaming. VR isn’t poised to replace typical mobile gaming, but it’s going to represent a major new branch of the mobile entertainment industry.
There have also been some more game-centric shifts in Android gaming in the last year. One that stands out is the continued growth of the casino market through mobile phones. There is now a large collection of gaming apps that fall under this umbrella, where not so long ago most legitimate digital casinos existed online in browsers and on desktops. Software has been tweaked in a way that allows established casino developers to put out games specifically built for mobile phones, and Android stores are now packed with legitimate, impressive options. It’s not a genre for everybody, but it is extremely popular, so this represents a pretty big development in Android gaming.
And then there was the migration of Nintendo content to the Google Play store, after it had started exclusively with Apple. This is the most recent development, given that Super Mario Run was just made available for Android devices in March, but it’s a change that has major implications. Nintendo is one of the most popular names in gaming, and if more mobile games are to come from them it will be reassuring for countless users to know that Android can get in on the action.
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