PG is 10: The History of Mobile Games - 2012

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PG is 10: The History of Mobile Games - 2012

This year, Pocket Gamer celebrates its tenth birthday.

In internet terms, that’s pretty ancient.

To mark the occasion, and to illustrate just how old and wise we are, we’ll be taking a look back at the games, trends, and general happenings for each of the years we’ve been around. (See 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.)

After a tumultuous 2011, the year 2012 felt a great deal calmer. Not that PG and the wider world of mobile gaming had been shaken out of its stride at all. Both continued to go from strength to strength.

What were we playing?
We saw another golden crop of games in 2012.

On iOS, Rayman Jungle Run and Punch Quest did beautiful things with the auto-run platformer genre, which was starting to get a little crowded by this point. New Star Soccer remains one of the best sports games on the App Store, while Super Hexagon frustrated some (me) and wowed others (everyone else on the PG team) with its hardcore antics.

We preferred playing the detailed clockwork chaos of Fieldrunners 2 HD on our iPads, and the cinematic decision-making of The Walking Dead: The Game worked better on Apple’s large-screened tablet, too.

Meanwhile, Android closed the gap on iOS gaming massively with a number of top conversions and simultaneous releases. We particularly enjoyed enigmatic puller Splice and ingenious match-three puzzler Triple Town.

On both iOS and Android, 2012 was the year we all did permanent damage to our forefingers with Curiosity. What was in the box? Nothing that lessened our shame at the hours we wasted on this glorified social experiment, that’s for sure.

There were also some decent 3DS and PS Vita games like Fallblox and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but it wasn’t a peak year for either.

What were we playing on?
On the mobile phone front, 2012 was a full-number year for Apple fans. That means we got an all-new iPhone design, in this case the iPhone 5. The big addition here was a longer 4-inch screen, which meant put-upon developers had to go back and stretch our their games accordingly.

As for tablets, 2012 was the year of the mini. Towards the end of the year, Apple launched the iPad mini – essentially an iPad with a smaller 7.9-inch screen. Soon after, Google announced its first tablet, the super-cheap Nexus 7.

In the world of handhelds, Sony released its PS Vita console, which promised near-PS3-standard gaming on the go along with – hallelujah! – a second analogue control stick.

What else was going on in mobile?
Perhaps the biggest news in mobile in 2012 was Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. It meant that Google suddenly had its own smartphone hardware division, and a stack of handy patents to fend off legal attacks from Apple.

Microsoft was also active in 2012, releasing Windows Phone 8 to no great effect. Far more significant was the launch of the Surface, a tablet-laptop hybrid that would prove to be hugely influential over the coming years.

Meanwhile, Nokia continued to flounder with its Windows Phone efforts, but it also came up with an intriguing evolutionary dead-end in the Nokia 808 PureView. Here was a sub-standard smartphone running on the pretty much obsolete Symbian OS, but with an outrageously capable 41-megapixel camera.

What else was PG doing?
After a relatively quiet 2011, Pocket Gamer’s parent company Steel Media really kicked into action in 2012. In June, it launched swipe magazine, a digital publication aimed at iOS users with fancy interactive elements.

October saw Steel launching Smart TV Radar, a website dedicated to the emerging smart TV market.

That same month Steel acquired 148Apps, a popular US website providing coverage of the latest iOS apps and games.

All in all a pretty busy year, then.

What else was happening?
After a pretty crappy few years and a particularly violent 2011, 2012 was comparatively sunny and optimistic – especially for us Brits.

A beautiful summer complemented a triumphant London Olympics, restoring a little national pride and optimism to our downtrodden land. Our sporting high was continued when Andy Murray won the US Open in September. (For our international readers: Brits are generally lousy at tennis, despite having invented the thing.)

Even many of the weightier matters of the year seemed more
positive in 2012. For example, scientists at CERN discovering a new particle that fitted the description of the Higgs boson – the last unverified part of the Standard Model of particle physics.

What's all this, then?

The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th - April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, Nordeus, and Ninja Kiwi. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.