Chris Dixon wrote an interesting piece a while ago (link) talking about how changes in user interface technology lead to changes in productivity applications. The same might be applied to games: this Google Trends chart is a handy short-hand illustration of four games, each of which were driven by a particular model for user interaction:
- Tetris, which began decades ago, was everywhere on button-led feature phones but doesn't really work well with touch screens
- Farmville, one of the biggest of the now-dead genre of Facebook games
- Angry Birds, one of the first big mobile games hits to exploit multi-touch screens effectively
- Candy Crush, the exemplar of the trend for systematic use of psychology (link) to exploit the availability of in-app purchases on smartphones
Games like Candy Crush are massively dependant on the attitudes of the platform owners (both within the game itself and in the visibility that comes from sitting at the top of the top-grossing lists), as was Farmville before it. This would make me slightly nervous if I was in that business. And of course, this poses the question of what changes in interaction models will drive the next wave of innovation in mobile games.