Video Games in the Age of Cell Phones


More than 100,000 new iPhone and iPad games were uploaded to Apple’s App Store last year–upwards of 500 a day, by some estimates. There were puzzle games, role-playing games, strategy games, shoot-’em-ups, sports games, quizzes, war games, word games. Some were good. Some were bad. Some were truly terrible. The vast majority of them went unnoticed and sold poorly if at all.

So why do people make them? Because a) mobile games, as they’re called, are relatively easy and inexpensive to develop, and b) a successful one pretty much prints money.

The canonical example is Flappy Bird. A simple game featuring a squat little bird that tries (and usually fails) to fly between big green pipes without touching them, Flappy Bird was coded over a long weekend in 2013 by a 28-year-old in Hanoi named Dong Nguyen. Since then it’s been downloaded over 50 million times and was making $50,000…

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