The history of mobile gaming can at times look like a monoculture, with flash-in-the-pan freemium titles and hyper-casual games tending to steal the limelight and crowd out the top download charts in both the Play Store and Apple App store. Yet this conceals the great diversity of options open to smartphone gamers in the 2020s.
With developers committing more time and effort to porting and optimizing games for the platform, and smartphone hardware growing more powerful and capable, it’s no wonder this sector is the fastest growing gaming market in the world today. Below we’re going to take a look at some underrated platforms, services and providers for mobile-ready gaming. There’s more to Android and iOS than simplistic minigames, as our list below clearly attests to.
Free and Open-Source Experiences for the Privacy-Conscious
In our modern era, questions of privacy and security have never been more present in the public conversation. This has led to many people seeking to educate themselves on what steps they can take to ensure they’re keeping their devices secure. One major issue with officially supported app stores is that, inevitably, certain apps will come with security risks.
Some even deliberately install malware and spyware on your devices. Conscious mobile users can generally avoid these issues by only installing trusted and well-reviewed apps, but since you cannot see the source-code of the software you’re installing, there always remains a degree of risk and uncertainty. This is not the case with software classified as open source.
As the name implies, open-source software has readily accessible code, meaning privacy conscious users can be 100% certain that a certain app is free from malware. Alternative app libraries, such as F-Droid, specialize in providing open-source apps, and many great games can be found on these.
From fan-made open-source adaptations of classic titles like Sid Meier’s Civilization II, to a host of great emulators and virtual consoles, privacy conscious users can access a range of great gameplay experiences without any risk to their cybersecurity.
Digital Casino on the Go
Thanks to the flexibility of modern smartphone web-browsers, it’s possible to access many games and services that exist outside of the range of the titles available in the app stores. For iGaming fans, there are a range of well-established services that can be accessed this way, such as PokerStars Casino.
This platform delivers a host of cutting-edge online renditions of classics from the casino canon. With traditional mainstays such as roulette and blackjack available alongside a new generation of online-optimized digital slots titles, there’s enough variety to keep even the seasoned brick-and-mortar aficionado engaged. Additionally, many games nowadays use streaming technology to offer live rooms with in-person dealers for a higher level of immersion in the mobile gaming space.
Triple ‘A’ Gaming on Budget Devices
Cloud gaming is a quiet revolution that few are aware of in mobile gaming. Cloud gaming services seek to do for gaming what Netflix did for Movies and TV. This is because they stream gaming content to a device of your choosing in real-time. This frees gamers up to play even the latest console and PC titles on hardware that would never be able to run it natively.
Even if you’ve got an older or budget smartphone, platforms like Google Stadia, Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna can open up a whole new world of gaming experiences to you. To get the most out of the type of games on offer on these platforms it’s recommended you buy or connect a Bluetooth game controller to your device, and then, providing you’ve got a stable internet connection, the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 or Far Cry 6 will be at your fingertips.
Facebook’s Vast Gaming Ecosystem
It’s easy to forget that Facebook features a range of games to explore. With classics like 8 Ball Pool and Words with Friends among its most popular titles, Facebook delivers the unique value of being able to instantly invite and join games with anyone on your friends-list at the click of a button.
With global leaderboards and the ability to post your victories to your newsfeed for bragging rights, Facebook delivers something simple yet unique for mobile gamers.