For better or worse, smartphones have drastically changed gaming. Having mobile games available at the touch of a button on a device that can fit in your pocket seemed like a fun novelty for the first few years, but at this point, it’s fair to say it’s revolutionized the industry.

Not only do we now have high-quality games available on the go though; we also have constant access to a medium that is constantly growing and improving. That is to say, the best thing about mobile gaming might be that the app stores are seldom the same from one day to the next.

There’s always a new game, and sometimes a whole new genre or style to get used to. And with that in mind, we’re looking to the near future and some of the next big things that could shape mobile gaming.

AR Games

It is widely accepted that the release of Pokémon Go in June 2016 popularized AR games on mobile devices. And yet, some feel that even three years later AR can be gimmicky, with imperfect graphics and clunky experiences. Still, there are already a ton of AR games on the market, including Jurassic World Alive, Ingress Prime, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Fans of these games enjoy seeing bits and pieces of fantasies brought into the world around them, such that even if the games aren’t perfect yet, the potential for the medium has become clear. We’d certainly bet on AR games being an even bigger deal in the near future, particularly if and when smartphones begin pairing with next-gen smart glasses (as many are predicting).

Games With Bluetooth Controllers

Certain gaming-oriented mobile devices are now compatible with Bluetooth controllers. And while we wouldn’t necessarily say that use of such controllers is mainstream just yet, gamers everywhere can attest that external controllers are more exciting and more capable than tapping on a touchscreen.

A good controller can instantly transform a compatible mobile phone into something that can easily rival a Nintendo Switch or PSP. Plenty of inventive games, such as Tesla vs Lovecraft, Riptide GP, and Unkilled, to name a few, can all be played on Android devices with an external controller. We expect to see more games added to that list, and for controller gaming to become far more common.

Online Slots

Online and mobile casino games now allow gamblers to enjoy a Las Vegas-level experience without ever having to leave home. This has actually been true for some time, but the category is evolving in ways that should make it more and more appealing to mobile users around the world. For one thing, not all the professional-calibre games cost money; free slots on offer in New Jersey and some similar counterparts in Europe allow for all sorts of fun before one has to deposit real money.

Additionally, the sheer volume of games in the category has become staggering, in a good way. At this point, there’s a themed slot out there to satisfy just about any interest. It’s for these reasons we expect mobile slots to explode in popularity in the near future even though they’ve been around forever.

Subscription-based Gaming Services

In September, Apple launched a subscription-based gaming service for iPhone, iPad, and macOS. Over 100 games can be downloaded on the Apple App Store through the $5-per-month subscription (with more titles likely on the way in time).

Having driven a significant portion of mobile gaming development almost inadvertently through its app store, Apple is apparently vying to control the next era of smartphone-based gaming, as competing tech companies look to leverage demand for greater profits. What this means, in all likelihood, is that we’ll start to see more subscription models for mobile games.

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