Developing games for mobile devices is a potentially lucrative option for ambitious individuals and teams that already have some experience of building software, but want to tap into a vast new market.
Before you dive in, it’s important to learn about some of the considerations and caveats that come with mobile game development, so here are a few of the main talking points to take onboard.
Finding the initial idea
You need a germ of a concept to get started with your mobile game, and at this stage it makes sense to base your idea around the type of experience you want to offer players.
The good news is that you aren’t limited in terms of the genre your game can occupy. Everything from fast-paced first person shooters to slow, methodical puzzlers to casino games are available on portable devices today, and the most interesting mobile casinos in the market can even span several genres in one place.
There’s no harm in taking inspiration from existing games and genres, but you have to do market research to see whether your idea will find an audience. Without prospective players, your game won’t gain traction.
Considering the mechanics
With the broad idea in place, you’ll need to think about how gameplay mechanics apply to it. Basically, this means setting out the rules and aims of your game, and how the player will go about achieving them.
This could be something super-simple, like guiding a character past randomly-generated obstacles that are thrown in their path. It could be more complex, like solving a narrative mystery in which multiple NPCs and potential story threads are followed.
Whatever the case, your mechanics and your initial idea will determine all of the other development decisions you make, from the user interface and controls to the graphical style.
Picking a platform
Before you can get down to the nitty gritty of development, you need to know which platforms you are making your mobile game for.
There are two main options out there, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android accounting for the lion’s share of the market.
Ideally, you’ll eventually launch your game on both, although there is a third option; build your game to run in web browsers, and make it compatible not only with mobile devices in a platform agnostic way, but also open it up to desktop users. It really depends on where your market research tells you your players will be.
Selecting a game engine
All games need an engine to power them, and mobile development is packed with potential options to consider here.
Fully fledged solutions like Unity and Unreal Engine are well equipped for both 2D and 3D game projects, and can be ported to Android and iOS as well as to web browsers and PCs or even games consoles as well.
There are also simpler, mobile-focused solutions like SpriteKit, Buildbox and Fusion to consider, although these might not be best for the most ambitious projects, but could suit smaller teams down to the ground.
Start development & deploy frequent testing
With the main foundations of your mobile game in place, development can begin in earnest. At this point the direction you take is up to you, and the most important thing to remember is that you need to keep testing your creation time and again throughout development so that kinks can be identified and ironed out.
After this will come the process of submitting it to the platforms you want to play host to it, and aspects like marketing, the launch itself as well as customer support and subsequent bug fixes.
If you go into mobile game development with a level head and realistic expectations, all of these challenges will be more than manageable.