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"Playing Candy Crush on ipad" (CC BY 2.0) by m01229


Ever since Nokia introduced phones with the first incarnation of Snake pre-programmed on them, mobile users have become obsessed with skill-based app games as a time-filling distraction. The simple idea was easy enough to get the hang of, but took hours of practice to master. Snake's popularity led developers to focus frequently on skill-based ideas for their games, in an effort to tap into the human desire to conquer challenges.

via GIPHY


According to bgo, Millennial and Generation Y gamers have become accustomed to games that test their ability. This highlights how Snake in the late ‘90s went on to influence apps for smartphones, where the primary area of focus is games of skill.


One of the first ever skill-based games for smartphones was Doodle Jump, which was released in 2009. Players had to tilt the phone to guide "The Doodler" up an infinite series of platforms. If you missed a platform you would fall to your doom and have to start all over again. It was hugely popular, and sold 25,000 copies daily for its first 4 months. Later that year, Angry Birds came out, and surpassed Doodle Jump's sales record.

via GIPHY


Where Doodle Jump didn't have much longevity in that it was only one level being played over and over again, Angry Birds had multiple stages, each representing a completely different set of challenges. Users could keep testing their abilities using unique birds that had varying special talents, and by breaking down more intricate sets of obstacles. They also got a star rating out of three for each level depending on how well they had done. This gave players an extra challenge - to attempt to get three stars on every level. Games in the series have been downloaded over 3 billion times, which is testament to the game's appeal.

via GIPHY


The three-star concept has been used by a number of games since Angry Birds, most notably perhaps, Candy Crush. The idea behind the game was simple; to mix candies together and clear the puzzle area. As bgo suggests, the game was "sickly and addictive" because of its "saga" feature, the fact that there were so many levels to overcome, and because you could see how far your Facebook friends had progressed as well.


The success of these challenging app games has even influenced iGaming developers to start incorporating them into slot games. Online slots are hugely popular, but gamers who like to test their skills are missing out on the action. The new Space Invaders slot at Vegas Slots Online has an added element that requires gamers to shoot the aliens to try to win money, and is one of the first of its kind. Games like this could help online casinos pull in an even wider audience.


Another skill-based app that is pushing the genre in a new direction is Pokémon Go. Players not only have to use skill to throw the pokeball and catch the intriguing monsters, they also have to wander about in real-life settings in search of them. The game incorporates augmented reality, so that the Pokémon are actually seen in the real world, through the lens of the phone of course. With augmented reality glasses set to flood markets in the near future, Pokémon Go could mark the beginning of a new wave of AR games.


The massive success of Pokémon Go and apps like Angry Birds and Candy Crush suggests that a combination of these things could be a massive hit. Will people soon be flinging virtual birds in real-life settings? Or maybe gamers will have to go into shops and move candy around on the shelves? Whatever the aim, skill games are here to stay, but they are sure to become more advanced.



The internet has changed our lives forever and there's hardly any aspect of it that still remains untouched by the World Wide Web. Apart from simplifying the global trade, making information easily available and creating countless other potentially world-changing opportunities, the internet have also become a hub for digital entertainment. Online gaming has gained a lot of popularity in recent times and it will only grow in magnitude and scale as time passes on. If you are looking to give this lucrative world of multiplayer battles, races and rewards a try, check out this list of the most popular genres in online gaming today.


Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO)



Imagine exploring, fighting and completing quests in a virtual world that's co-inhabited by thousands of other players and you should have an idea about what an MMO is exactly. Some of the most popular MMO titles include World of Warcraft, Tom Clancy's The Division, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV and Tera Online.


First Person Shooters (FPS)



A FPS game typically puts you in the shoes of the protagonist, armed with guns, armor, grenades and much more to blow your opponents into oblivion! Multiplayer first person shooters like Counter Strike Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2 and Destiny are extremely popular and are enjoyed by thousands of players around the world every day.


Casino Games



Various online casino games like Blackjack, Craps, Poker, Roulette, etc. are played and enjoyed by millions of players around the world now and with the security system getting tighter and safer with each passing day, the number is expected to increase. However, you should be careful and deal only with legal and trustworthy online casinos like casino.com for example.


Sports Games



Sports games like the FIFA series or the Pro Evolution Soccer series make for some of the most intense real time competitive online simulations ever and that's exactly why they are so popular all over the world. Other popular games in the genre include the Madden series and the NBA series.


Racing Games



Racing was one of the first genres in gaming ever to sport competitive multiplayer gameplay. The genre gained widespread popularity recently with the extremely successful NFS series of games. Apart from cars, online racing games may include bike racing, Jet Ski racing, etc.


Fighting Games



Basically anyone can pick up a controller and start throwing punches and kicks in a fighting game, but it takes true skill and precision to reach mastery of the game. Although they are not as popular worldwide as some of the others on this list, the player base is still pretty strong for games such as Street Fighter or Tekken.


Did we miss your favourite type of online games? If so, then let us know in the comments section below.


"DSC01045" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by tablexxnx


There's a school of thought that states that microtransactions - small gameplay enhancements bought with real money, otherwise known as in-app purchases - are always bad, a belief that stems from widespread misuse of the feature by both bedroom developers and major companies like Ubisoft and EA.


However, whether you like them or not, apps often rely on a dedicated base of paying ‘whales' (or power users) to keep the lights on. Fallout Shelter, for example, a mobile game that tasks you with leading a group of helpless survivors in the wake of a nuclear war, was earning $364,000 a day earlier this year, despite not charging players a dime to download it.


In-app purchases are a lucrative economic model and they're not going away. With that in mind, here are some examples of microtransactions done right, in games we don't mind spending our money on.


Fallout Shelter


Fallout Shelter's microtransactions are unique in that they aren't purely cosmetic and can make life underground more entertaining. There are frequent promotions and holiday sales too, as well as the occasional money-saving bundle.



The game packs resources, pets (conveying myriad bonuses), new survivors, and crafting tools into blind boxes. There's also the option of buying Nuka-Cola Quantum, which lets players skip the multi-hour journey times to quest locations, and a Mr. Handy robot, who automates resource collection on a single floor. The great thing about Fallout Shelter's in-app purchases is that they're an enhancement to gameplay and not a necessity, as the items can sometimes be found in game for free.


mFortune Slots


Something a little bit different, mFortune, an iGaming company, allows the users of its apps to make slots deposit by phone bill, meaning that players without immediate access to money can simply add it to the tab they hold with their phone company. It's a novel idea that benefits from immediate deposits and the added security of keeping your credit card details offline.


The website, which also offers bingo and classic casino games like blackjack and poker, gives new players a sign-up bonus as an incentive to play.


Pokémon Go


Pokémon Go needs no introduction. Niantic's mobile monster hunter earned $200m in its first month in a textbook demonstration of how to monetize an app. The game's currency, Pokécoins, can be bought with real money and traded for Poké Balls, lucky eggs, which grant extra experience points, and incense, an item that lures Pokémon to your location.


It's nothing you can't find in the regular game but an extra lucky egg (for example) means you won't have to catch quite so many Weedle and Rattata to ascend the game's levels.


Hearthstone


"Hearthstone Beta" (CC BY 2.0) by mrwynd


A ‘card battle' game from Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft and Diablo, Hearthstone's in-app purchases are straightforward - you can use real money to buy packs of five cards to improve your deck. The popularity of the app's microtransactions is perhaps best demonstrated by one US writer's $639 spending spree on Hearthstone's market.


Much like Pokémon Go's in app-purchases, Hearthstone's card packs can be harvested for free in game, albeit at a rate of about one a day. Also like Pokémon, it's the urge to complete a whole set of something (in this case, cards) that makes the in-app purchases so appealing.


Dungeon Keeper


Just kidding. As a final point, it's worth noting that well thought-out mobile economics is something of a rarity on the Play Store and the App Store. Microtransactions are often blatant cash grabs from clueless suits, the reason children continue to rack up massive bills buying coins, crystals, gems, and many other make-believe currencies.


A perfect example is Dungeon Keeper, a recent remake of Peter Molyneux's 1997 PC game. With in-app purchases costing up to $100, a sum that makes the term ‘microtransactions' seem more than a little ironic, EA's update was panned for slowing progress to zero if the player didn't feed the money machine its favorite dollars.

 



There was a time when all the main gaming you did was played out on a console or a PC, but how times have changed. In line with virtually everything technological, people are now generally looking for a "one device does everything" approach to play in order to enjoy everything from movies and social media to bingo online. This, along with ever more available wireless go-anywhere connectivity, means that smartphones are now becoming many people's first choice for gaming.


The manufacturers are well aware of this fact and are incorporating more and more gamer-friendly features into each new generation of phones. So here are five to get your fingers twitching in anticipation of their 2017 launches.


Apple iPhone 7S



Hard to believe it, but 2017 sees the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and what a long way it's come since its launch. Traditionally Apple make all their big product launches in September and there's no reason why next year should be any different, Rumours are already rife that the 7S may have an OLED screen giving extra-sharp picture quality as well as the phone featuring wireless charging. What will definitely be included are the revolutionary wireless headphones that are great for gaming.


Xiaomi Mi Mix



Due out from January the Xiaomi Mi Mix is proof, as if it was needed, that some of the lesser-known manufacturers have some big surprises up their sleeves. Most notable on this phone will be the big, edgeless screen which comprised over 93% of the total phone size and which promises crystal-clear images. This is married to a super-fast processer and up to 6GB of RAM. For fantastic sound there's also going to be the very technical sounding "cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology".


HTC 11



Their preceding model, the HTC 10, was widely agreed to be the model that really put the maker back on the map and the 11 is likely to be an improvement even on this model, due out in April. Sound is likely to include the successful Boomsound speakers and a fast Snapdragon 830 processor will be able to deal with all the gaming action that you need. They're also likely to increase the screen size from 5.2" up to 5.5" and up the battery power which will mean less frequent need for e-charging.


LG G6



The end of February should see the launch of the G6. It's expected to have a glass front and rear. Of particular interest to gamers are the plans to improve the processor to prepare it for Virtual Reality applications. Wireless charging is also likely to feature as well as an innovative iris-scanning technology to help keep the phone safe from unauthorised use.


Samsung Galaxy 8



Following the disastrous and costly launch of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung have a lot riding on the 8. They've got till August to get it right and when it is launched we're expecting to have a phone with a large 5.7" screen and a powerful processor ready for VR gaming. Waterproofing is almost certain too - ideal if you're a fan of gaming in the bath.


So of all the phones it's inevitable that the most noise will be made about Apple's - but that doesn't mean it's necessarily the only one for gaming. So maybe look to the Xiaomi if you want the biggest, and best, surprises. 

14 November, 2016 Gaming

"Samsung Galaxy S7 edge" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Răzvan Băltărețu


The popular image of mobile gaming is one of commuters playing Candy Crush and similar throwaway titles but developers like Apple, Samsung, and Google are engaged in a perpetual game of one-upmanship, meaning that devices are getting faster with every new iteration of the iPhone or S-series Galaxy.


The mobile arena in 2016 isn't too dissimilar to the one occupied by consoles and PCs - specs are everything and arguing about them is a viable hobby in select corners of the internet. It's perhaps no surprise that AAA games like Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Dead Space, XCOM, and FIFA have all made their way to mobile in recent years.


However, mobile gaming is much more than console ports and match-three titles. The iGaming sector in particular has long had a foothold on Android and Apple devices, inclusive of games like bingo, poker, blackjack, and slot machines. It's not hard to see why; iGaming is growing by 11% a year worldwide and ad-revenue on casino apps outstrips that of apps in other genres.


With that in mind, mobile devices can be a paradise of pick-up-and-play action. The variety of different William Hill Bingo casino games are a good example, with 75, 80 and 90 ball games on a range of different themes. Playing bingo on the go can also net players incentives like jackpots and loyalty points.


With 2016 winding down, and most of the year's new devices already on the market, here are some of the best mobile devices for playing bingo on the bus:


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge


Let's get straight to the point. Samsung's flagship smartphone is (probably) the best device you can buy right now. It boasts 4GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, and the Snapdragon 820 processor. The Edge also has 64GB of storage, a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, and a Game Launcher app to optimize your device for games.


As you might expect, it also supports the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset. It's not the sharpest device in the world (and the current game library leaves a lot to be desired) but it's an order of magnitude cheaper than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. At $650-750 for both Samsung devices though, it's a big investment.



"Huawei Nexus 6P" (CC BY 2.0) by Janitors


Nexus 6P


Forget about Google's Pixel XL, the older Nexus 6P is still a fantastic device. It's also about $125 less expensive than the S7 Edge yet features comparable hardware, like the Snapdragon 810 processor. It falls down a little on the graphics-processing unit (Adreno 430) and RAM (3GB) but it has a larger 5.7-inch AMOLED screen.


The Nexus 6P also has VR capabilities through Google Daydream, the successor to Google Cardboard and arguably the one device in the VR market that bridges the gap between functionality and affordability. However, the 6P is on the large side of things and, while that might make it great for gaming, it's not the most comfortable thing to have in your pocket.


OnePlus X


If price is your chief concern when buying a smartphone, the OnePlusX is a budget device that doesn't compromise too heavily on hardware. It's just over a year old now and offers a quad-core Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. It's also available for less than $250.



As a ‘mini' alternative to the OnePlus 2, it has a smaller AMOLED screen than the Nexus, Edge, and the more expensive OnePlus models. It's also the least powerful device on this list but, at more than half the price of the Edge, it's definitely worth checking out if you're a gamer on a budget.


If you're still not convinced, there's also the HTC 10 and Moto Z Play, both of which offer a good experience for Android gamers.


It's time to start writing that Christmas list.

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