In 2013 the UN reported that more people had access to cell phones than they did to toilets. Just a year later it was confirmed that there were more active mobile devices than there were human beings on the planet. More than two billion of those are smartphones and that figure continues to rise in developed and developing markets alike. That’s a huge platform for potential gamers and the mobile game market is growing at an even faster rate. In 2014, mobile games revenue was worth $4.9 billion in the US alone and that market was expected to grow 51% year over year. The Asia Pacific market dwarfs even those figures however. In 2014 the mobile game market in that region was worth $12.2 billion and the growth rate in China is 86%.

So why is mobile gaming so popular? In part it’s to do with ease and accessibility. The rise of the smartphone has coincided with the rise of the so-called ‘casual gamer’. Casual gamers are also likely to play games linked to their social media sites and, as more and more of us access our social profiles via mobile, these games become even more popular. Most people have their phones with them most of the time and it’s easy to dip in and out of a game.

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Where early phones came loaded with Tetris or Snake, now there is a huge range of different games to play. Some are co-operative or pit the gamer against other people online while others are purely single-player. You can play MMORPGs on your phone or access online casino sites. Graphics and other capabilities are also improving all the time. It’s often said that your smartphone has more computational power than the computers used by NASA for the Apollo program that took man to the moon. They’re also far more sophisticated than early personal computers and gaming consoles.

Technological advances led to more possibilities in mobile gaming but unlike the console and PC market, there’s no real obsession in pushing boundaries. The appeal in mobile games often lies in their simplicity and standards like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga manage to be addictive without breaking any new technological ground.

You can also play mobile games without having to make a substantial outlay. The price of a console or PC game is only part of the overall cost; consider the cost of a next-gen console or a decent gaming laptop, which can easily cost upwards of a thousand dollars and still be obsolete in two years. Phones cost money too of course, whether it’s paid upfront or built into a contract. Many people consider their phones to be indispensable however. They’re going to have them, with games or without, so the cost of the phone itself is not generally associated with mobile gaming.

Hardcore gamer often look down on mobile games but it looks like they’re here to stay and they’re changing the stereotypical image of what a gamer is. Small screens, it seems, are increasingly big business.