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2014 in review: iOS and Android gaming

2014 was a strong year for iOS and Android, with some notable game releases and some interesting advances in tech.


Gaming on iOS and Android has become more prominent in 2014. A combination of advances on the tech side and some notable new games have made this a good year for fans of tablet and smartphone gaming.

March 5: Twitch releases mobile SDK for iOS/Android streaming

While the Twitch mobile apps still leave something to be desired, the company is actively working on ways to improve the overall experience. One of the paths they've gone down is allowing developers to offer mobile broadcasting through the use of a new SDK.

It didn't take long for developers to begin looking for ways to implement this new tech. Developer Gameloft released Asphalt 8: Airborne a mere two weeks later, allowing iOS users to broadcast their gameplay on Twitch from their iOS devices for the first time.

April 2: Nvidia Shield gets remote streaming

As part of its update to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the Nvidia Shield got some strong new streaming capabilities. Shield owners could now remotely stream their PC games directly to their Shield by using their 4G LTE phone connection as a hotspot.

Even those hesitating to pick up smartphone games now suddenly had a good gaming application at their fingertips. Those opting to skip iOS and Android games could simply use their hotspot function to stream their home games on the go.

April 17: Square Enix releases Hitman: GO and finds an unlikely hit

Square Enix announced in February that the Hitman franchise would hit iOS and Android for the first time this year as a mobile stratgy game. The announcement was met with a lot of skepticism, given the franchise's stealthy shooter roots. Who could picture Agent 47 as a board game piece?

As it turned out, Square Enix Montreal's mobile effort wound up being one of the best mobile games of the year. The turn-based strategy angle worked marvelously and somehow managed to incorporate many of the standard Hitman elements. It was a major step forward for mobile gaming, as Square Enix proved that with a little bit of lateral thinking, just about any blockbuster franchise could find a good home on iOS and Android. In fact, Square is taking things further with Hitman: Sniper set to bring a more traditional Hitman experience to mobile devices in the near future.

June 2: iOS unveils 'Metal' for developers

Realizing the potential that iOS devices have for gaming, Apple went further down this rabbit hole shortly before E3. Alongside the iOS 8 announcement, the company introduced Metal, which would allow developers to directly access a device's CPU and graphics processor.

The potential for Metal was shown immediately, with Electronic Arts titles running capably on iPad. While they were simple vertical slices for existing, the potential for future applications was promising. Epic Games showed more of that promise with Zen Garden, an Unreal Engine 4 game built with Metal.

July 22: Nvidia introduces the Shield Tablet

The Shield has been a boon to Nvidia's foray into mobile gaming. So naturally, for 2014, the company thought bigger with its first entry into the tablet market. The Nvidia Shield Tablet was unveiled over the summer, offering the first mobile device to fully integrate Twitch streaming.

The Shield Tablet is also competitively priced, with $299 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version and $399 for a 32GB version with LTE. Utilizing advanced specs and Nvidia's Shadowplay for game sharing, the Shield Tablet quickly established itself as a powerful workhorse for Android gaming.

August 4: 2K announces iOS BioShock port

Ports are becoming increasingly common with iOS and Android, but 2K Games came out in August with arguably its most ambitious one to date. The original 2007 classic shooter, BioShock, was revealed to be making the jump to iPad.

The reveal proved to be significant for several reasons, the biggest one being that the iPad was now being touted as a device capable of delivering a major blockbuster first-person shooter. Sure, the graphics were scaled down due to hardware restrictions. But the fact that 2K could fit this game onto an iOS device at all is simply remarkable.

It may not have the polish of the XCOM games (on an aside, XCOM: Enemy Within hit iPad months later), but 2K's attempt to bring BioShock onto iOS should be taken as a major positive for mobile gamers.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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