The connection between gaming and smartphones is not new. Traversing memory lanes, we would recall games from the very early days of a mobile phone. Remember Snake, Tetris, Asteroid Zone, Prince of Persia? Two decades later, the smartphone gaming is pretty much unrecognizable.
The evolution introduced some of the best games with high-quality graphics and also prompted prominent brands like Asus, ZTE, Black Shark, Razer, and Realme, to start offering gaming-centric devices. Who would've thought that phone makers would be forced to create sturdier devices to keep pace with the smarter games and gamers.
Brace yourself for some nostalgia, the first gaming centric smartphone was rolled out in 2003. Yes, I am talking about the Nokia N Gage, the smartphone that looked like a handy gaming console. Though the phone had a 2.1-inch display and limited gaming options, but, back then people thought of it as the epitome of mobile gaming.
After almost 15 years, the audience got the first true gaming device named Asus ROG Phone. Recently, Asus dropped the ROG 5 smartphone that is hailed as the best flagship gaming device. As of now, the smartphones come equipped with a high capacity RAM, internal storage, powerful processor, displays with a high refresh rate for the purpose of gaming. Gone are the times when the best game you could play on your smartphone was not large in size and didn't require high-end specifications.
Smartphone gaming - Then v/s now?
Over the past decade, smartphone gaming represented a mode of entertainment for anyone with a handset. People indulged in games like Angry Birds and others just to pass time - maybe waiting at the dentist or while catching a flight. The graphics were at best passable, and hardly realistic. Google Play Store had tons of such games for an audience that was anything but serious about gaming.
Then came games with high-quality graphics such as Marvel's Contest of Champions, WWE Immortals, Un-Killed etc. These games required handsets with lots of RAM and internal storage. And, when phone makers were driven to provide better cameras on their devices, gaming took a backseat. But, only for a while as they realized that the smart shooter wasn't the only bit that their customer was asking for.
Over the last five years, the battle royale games took the lead and gained a lot of traction in India. It all started with the launch of PUBG Mobile and going on to being a smash hit in terms of millions of downloads and a growing fanbase. Following the trend, many other battle royale games like Garena Free Fire, Call of Duty Mobile and others came into existence.
The ban on PUBG Mobile in June last year came as a shock for both players and the game developer Tencent Games. However, things got sorted when Krafton rolled out a rebranded India specific version of PUBG Mobile named Battlegrounds Mobile India.
As the mobile games themselves became more real with top-notch graphics and lots of player options, they presented real-life problems to the device makers. Loads of RAM and high processing power were a given, but handsets also required to have a high refresh rate to ensure a smooth gaming experience.
This was probably what led to the arrival of gaming-focused smartphones.
Asus took the lead with the ROG gaming smartphone series that almost changed the whole scenario of the Indian market. Though these devices are priced considerably higher than the regular ones, users weren't complaining. They believe that the cost is more than justified by the high-end specifications.
In addition, a clutch of Chinese smartphone brands like OnePlus, Realme, Xiaomi came up with various handsets that were apt for gaming and included improved camera and design too.
To enhance their impact amongst the regular audience, these brands came with mid-ranged and budget smartphones that were capable of running high-end games like Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), Call of Duty Mobile without any lagging or heating issues.
Given below is a list of the top gaming smartphones available in India from both the premium segment and mid-range segment.
Buy Asus ROG Phone 5 on Flipkart (opens in new tab)
Price starting at Rs. 49,999
Buy OnePlus 9 from Amazon (opens in new tab)
Starting Price: Rs. 49,999
Buy OnePlus 9 Pro from Amazon (opens in new tab)
Starting price: Rs. 64,999
Buy iPhone 13 from Amazon (opens in new tab)
Starting price: Rs. 79,900
Buy Moto G60 phone from Flipkart (opens in new tab)
Price: Rs. 16,499
Buy Samsung Galaxy S21 from Amazon (opens in new tab)
Price: Rs. 54,999
Popular smartphone games
As per the stats shared by Statista, Google Play Store consisted of around 4,77,877 games by the first quarter of 2021. As of now, the number must have increased in the next two quarters. Here the point is, that out of the plethora of games available on the Google Play Store, only a few are worth playing and require high-end specifications to run smoothly. Let's have a look at various smartphone games from different genres that made a considerable impact on the audience.
Smartphone gaming and Esports
No one ever thought that smartphone gaming would one day turn out to be a part of esports. In the current times, smartphone games like PUBG Mobile, Clash Royale, Call of Duty are already hosting a series of tournaments for hardcore smartphone gamers on both domestic and international levels. The prize money offered in these esports tournaments is huge, and players get a chance to showcase their gaming skills on a national and global level.
A recent example of the same was the Skyesports Mobile Open that is backed by industry-leading brands like Ryzen. The tournament consists of various games like Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), Clash of Clans, FIFA Football, Real Cricket 20, etc. Similar to this, a dozen other tournaments keep happening in various parts of the globe round the year.
What 2022 holds for smartphone gaming?
Considering the number of possibilities, we can with certainty that the future of smartphone gaming is bright. The number of devices with high-end specifications and games is growing. In 2022, we can expect established franchises like BGMI, COD, and Free Fire to attract more people with new collaborations and regular updates.
A surge in the demand and supply of AR-based mobile games could also be a trend in the coming year. Even the top tech giants such as Apple and Google are working on AR headets.
Some of the prominent examples of AR-based smartphone games are Pokemon Go, Spirit Camera, Zombies, Run, etc. Moreover, the way companies are moving towards producing high-performing smartphones, expectations are that we will see more gaming-focused devices in the upcoming year.
Having a look at all that happened in 2021, including the launch of new games PUBG New State, BGMI, and the introduction of RAM expansion in mid-ranged devices, it can be said that gaming has come a long way.
Suffice to say that gaming would continue to fascinate us even in 2022 as would the innovations that we expect in this technology segment. Which means what we may consider today as a wow factor could become mundane next year.
The story of the Nokia N-Gage would continue playing each year.
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