Long before smartphones became all about selfies, fingerprint sensors, voice control and 4K displays, Nokia’s N-Gage series sought to provide some serious mobile gaming options. Gaming on a cell phone hadn’t become a craze: Angry Birds and Candy Crush were yet to be downloaded over a billion times. Instead, long hours were spent playing games like Civilization and Asphalt Urban GT. Announced in 2002, N-Gage was expected to compete with the then-popular Game Boy (by Nintendo). Today’s devices, however, are in a different league altogether. As the market for gaming grows, makers are increasingly looking to bring the console-like experience to smartphones.
“A major reason why people use smartphones today is entertainment, and gaming forms a huge part of it. For consumers today, a good smartphone gaming experience has become a prominent criteria while choosing a device. Makers are working towards realising this expectation,” says Amit Gujral, marketing head, LG Mobiles, India. Not surprisingly, recent launches come with processors capable ofrendering seamless gaming without draining battery life, console-class graphics and screens that provide an immersive experience.
Another significant factor is the transition to 4G that is taking place in the country. “Blazing fast network speeds are now available and there has been an increase in the uptake of 4G-enabled devices. Consumers can now enjoy various genres that are suitable for casual and serious gamers alike,” says Asim Warsi, vice-president, marketing, IT and mobile, Samsung India Electronics.
But it isn’t only about the hardware. Mobile gaming is driving demand as well. A recent industry report, by NewZoo and OneSky (gaming analytical firms), says that the smartphone gaming market in the country is expected to grow to $571.6 million by 2016. “Developers are now working to create specific games and apps that provide users the same gaming experience that they would experience on a console. On the other hand, smartphone makers, too, are enhancing phone features to complement these mobile games,” says Peter Chang, regional head of South Asia and managing director, ASUS India.
And there’s a lot to look forward to as well. Commodore, once a known computer brand, is looking to enter the smartphone market with an Android gaming device. Then there is W3D, which is designed for gaming. Unveiled at Consumers Electronics Show 2015, in Las Vegas, this new phone by Snail Mobile, will bring with it analog sticks, face buttons (control buttons that face you) and built-in stereoscopic 3D. “Multi-user gaming scenarios on connected smartphones will be a trend of future, while wire-free connectivity for smartphones with TV will be more seamless. Devices will also be designed with high-speed processors to adapt high-end and heavy user interface games,” says Gujral. It is indeed, game on.
Five games to download now
1. Monument Valley: An exploration-based game, that puzzles you with impossible architecture and geometry.
2. Alto's Adventure: An endless runner snowboarding video game for Apple users.
3. Angry Birds 2: With a successful predecessor, this version comes with new features. For instance, it lets you choose the bird you’d like to fling next.
4. Vainglory: A multi-player online battle arena, the game lets you choose characters and unlock his powers over a series of battles.
5. Tomb Raider: This game is an expedition set in the action packed world of the ultimate archeologist-adventurer, Lara Croft.
Five phones to watch out for:
1) iPhone 6s: The latest iPhone comes with an A9 chip that brings console-class graphics to the device. Games look richer and are more engaging. Price: Yet to be announcedin India
2) Samsung J5 and J7: HD AMOLED screens, free credits for popular games from Gameloft and 4G LTE connectivity for multi-player gaming. Price: Rs 11,999 (J5); Rs 14,999 (J7)
3) LG G4: With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor (with four cores at 1.44GHz and two cores at 1.82GHz), it offers a high-load capacity and ensures that games run seamlessly on the device. You also get Adreno418 graphics, and 3GB of RAM. Price: Rs 36,999 onward
4) ASUS Zenfone 2: It claims to be world’s first smartphone to have 4GB RAM and a 64-bit Intel Atom Super Quad Core 22nm processor that helps balance performance and power efficiency that make games run smoothly, without compromising on battery life. Price: Rs 12,999 onward
5) Acer Predator 6: Equipped with a large 6-inch display and a 4GB RAM, it runs on a beastly deca-core MediaTek processor. And if experts are to be believed, it will “blow away any Android game out of the ball park”. Price: Yet to be announced in India
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