We often view mobile app stores as being all about what’s newest and most advanced, and sometimes that’s just what they highlight best. When there are new tools for anything from navigation to fitness tracking, odds are you can find them first in whichever app store your mobile devices are compatible with. This is true when it comes to gaming as well, as many of the most exciting new titles are either designed for mobile play or come with mobile versions.
But on the flip-side of all this focus on what’s new and different, the app-gaming boom of the last five years or so has also led to an interesting phenomenon by which old and even outdated games are revived and revisited. Board games, game shows, ancient arcade titles—all have emerged in some form or another in app stores and in other digital gaming arenas. At this point, it’s fair to say that the mobile gaming industry appears to have limitless power to resurrect; no game, however old or however firmly associated with another platform, can die.
Here are a few examples of this development across the app gaming market.
In a way, board games are the furthest thing from modern video games. Many of today’s video games emphasize solitude through online interaction—meaning you’re encouraged to be social and enjoy multiplayer competition, but you’ll do so from the privacy of your own home. They’re all about action, immersion, and instant gratification, whether from knocking out yet another zombie in Minecraft or by completing a co-op mission in the latest Call of Duty. Board games, on the other hand, are meant to be enjoyed in person, with family members or friends, and usually over a few hours’ worth of time. Many may recall a game of Risk, Life, or Monopoly lasting for hours on end during a family night.
Despite this gigantic gap in gaming style and purpose, however, board games have experienced an explosive revival in their own introduction to app and online gaming markets. Monopoly, Clue, Life, Risk… all of these games now exist in digital form. For that matter, even the wildly popular Words With Friends is essentially a slightly altered version of Scrabble. Beyond these classics, some of the best board game apps are based on games that are either newer or simply popular with younger generations, such as Settlers of Catan, or Coup. Ultimately, it’s been proven time and time again that board games simply adapt well to digital platforms. The ease with which people now enjoy online multiplayer keeps the social component alive, if different.
To some extent, the game show has given way to interactive reality shows. That’s not to say there aren’t still game shows on television, and in fact it’s not altogether uncommon to see new ones tested by popular networks even today. But many who may have once made a habit of watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on a weekly basis will now tune in to shows like The Voice or any of a number of other talent shows.
But if game shows are less prominent on television, they’re living on quite well through mobile and online gaming experiences. Major titles like Jeopardy, Deal Or No Deal, the aforementioned Millionaire, and others have all made the leap to mobile platforms, where they essentially function as various forms of general trivia games. In some cases, online gaming sites have even taken this genre a little further to encompass some of the risk and reward nature of game show competition. One Deal Or No Deal arcade game offers up real money outputs when players land on lucky cases, which makes it quite similar to the show itself. It is chance-based as opposed to employing some level of statistical strategy like the show did, but it’s nevertheless an intriguing way for an engaging game format to endure past its life on television.
They’re called classics for a reason! Early arcade games helped establish the video game industry and provided simple, engaging entertainment that people still enjoy today. And when you look through app stores now, there are versions of most of the early arcade games that will come to mind as you read this: Pac-Man, Galaga, Tetris, and even whole bundles of old Atari titles. Sometimes these games are presented pretty much exactly as we’ve always known, and sometimes they’re modernized (to an extent) for new audiences.
On top of the continuity of classic arcade games, one of the biggest recent developments in the app market has proven that the basic themes in some of these games can be translated into entirely new titles. Hipster Whale product Crossy Road has become one of the most popular app games out there. As critics and users alike have noted, it’s the same core concept as Frogger. It’s just been updated with new settings and characters and an intentionally retro pixellated design.
Just think about how many old games these three categories cover, and how almost all of them have been brought into modern gaming. It’s become quite clear that despite the endless potential to innovate, one of the safest and most common pursuits for modern developers is to look to the past for inspiration.