What makes mobile games so addictive?

There’s something about mobile games that just keeps us coming back for more. In 2013 there were 909 million mobile gamers worldwide, and with the number of smartphone users ever increasing, those figures are steadily rising. Mobile gaming is also the most popular of all kinds, with 71% of gamers playing on smartphones compared to 26% on consoles (figures from Facebook IQ). Mobile games are designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and to get people hooked from the first play.


Clash of Clans 3” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Themeplus

Initially intended as time-fillers to combat boredom, mobile games have actually become time consuming as they keep players hungry for more. Games like Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans, and Hay Day generate combined annual revenue of more than $200million, showing just how lucrative the industry is.  Addictiveness is certainly the name of the game for successful mobile apps, and other games are tapping into the mobile market in an attempt to boost their following.

Casino games have been played online for a number of years, as the internet-based format has grown more rapidly than the land-based sector throughout the last ten years. Coinciding with that growth, smartphones and tablets are becoming essential, with a recent report from Pew Research Centre finding that 68% of adults in the USA own a smartphone. Online casinos have realised that their pick-up-and-play format is ideal for this ever expanding mobile gaming audience and have adapted accordingly.

Some online casinos have apps that users can download, and others like Betway have a site that is geared towards both desktop and mobile screens. Games like roulette are ideal to play while on the move, because it only takes a few minutes to take your turn. All you have to do is put down your stake, watch the wheel spin, and find out if you have won. In this sense they are comparable to games like Angry Birds where players can play a level in a matter of minutes.

Similarly, a level on Candy Crush will normally take the player around 3 minutes to complete. This could be done in the advert break of a TV show or while waiting for the bus. In fact, research from Facebook IQ found that 45% of people play while waiting for things, 44% play while travelling, and 21% play games at work. Ease of play has become a mainstay of the format because people are often playing and multitasking at the same time.

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

The fact that most mobile games are free to play is also a huge deciding factor. The games will get players hooked and then offer them the chance to pay for things. Clash of Clans will allow players to join up for free but also gives them the option to pay for in-game items to increase experience and improve their clans. Players also have limited lives, so they either have to wait until their lives are refilled to continue playing, or pay money to get more. Research has found that players are more likely to pay to level up quickly, beat their friends, and for social benefits.

Plenty of online casinos allow players to test out the games first before they play with real money. This allows players to get a feel for how to play, but it also serves to escalate their interest in the game and make them want to play for real money.

Mobile games have to be simple and easy to play, and they need to keep players wanting more. Angry birds continuously releases new updates with different locations, and casino games have evolved to provide players with a new take on the old classics. Mobile gaming is going nowhere and, if anything, it stands to become even more addictive.