Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Well it is no surprise now that mobile gaming is all the rage as Angry Birds hits 350 million downloads alone. But Apple released its top free and paid app numbers Tuesday, and the trend continues to hold.

So it’s also certainly no surprise that Cary-based Epic Games is going to unleash another version of its Infinity Blade on Dec. 1. The world renowned developers of the Gears of War and Unreal franchises certainly developed one of the most beautiful iOS/mobile titles I have seen to date in the celebrated, original Infinity Blade. The game delivered more than $10 million in sales in its first six months of release.

“‘Infinity Blade’ allowed us to demonstrate the true potential of triple-A handheld gaming by delivering mind-blowing graphics and awesome gameplay to millions of mobile users,” said Donald Mustard, creative director of Epic’s ChAIR Entertainment subsidiary in announing the new game Tuesday. “With ‘Infinity Blade 2’, we’re pushing the boundaries of everything achieved to date and adding a ton of new content and unique new features to create the must-have gaming experience on iOS.”

Companies at the Triangle’s own Joystick Labs also are hard at work developing more mobile games to pump into the mainstream gaming arena, from casual games to the more intense style of a third person shooter. (M.U.S.E. from LabRats Studio is a prime example.) The whole gaming world is trying to capitalize on the fact that just about everyone has a phone and more and more people are interested in both casual and hardcore games.

The App Store Charts are as follows (lists from The AP):

* Marks a mobile video game

App Store Official Charts for the week ending Oct. 3, 2011:

Top Paid iPhone Apps:

1. Where’s My Water? (Disney)*
2. Angry Birds (Clickgamer.com)*
3. Fruit Ninja (Halfbrick Studios)*
4. Angry Birds Seasons (Rovio Mobile Ltd.)*
5. Camera+ (tap tap tap)
6. My Secret Folder (Bright Artificial Intelligence Ltd)
7. WhatsApp Messenger (WhatsApp Inc.)
8. Angry Birds Rio (Rovio Mobile Ltd.)*
9. Cut the Rope (Chillingo Ltd)*
10. World of Goo HD (2D BOY)*

Top Free iPhone Apps:

1. Cross Fingers (Mobigame)*
2. My Sketch (Miinu)
3. Texas Poker (KAMAGAMES LTD)*
4. Are You Quick Enough? – The Ultimate Reaction Challenge (phuong vo)*
5. Traffic Rush (Donut Games)*
6. Card Ace: Casino (Self Aware Games)*
7. Office Zombie (Fluik)*
8. High Caliber Hunting (Electronic Arts)*
9. The Oregon Trail (Gameloft)*
10. Hair Plucker (Moxy Games)*

Top Paid iPad Apps:

1. Where’s My Water? (Disney)*
2. World of Goo HD (2D BOY)*
3. Pages (Apple)
4. Jelly Defense (Infinite Dreams Inc.)*
5. SHADOWGUN (MADFINGER Games, a.s.)*
6. Keynote (Apple)
7. Numbers (Apple)
8. Weather+ (International Travel Weather Calculator)
9. TuneIn Radio Pro (Synsion Radio Technologies)
10. Documents To Go Premium – Office Suite (DataViz, Inc.)

Top Free iPad Apps:

1. My Sketch (Miinu)
2. iBooks (Apple)
3. Traffic Rush (Donut Games)*
4. Netflix (Netflix, Inc.)
5. Tiny Pets (TinyCo, Inc.)*
6. WatchESPN (ESPN)
7. Kindle (AMZN Mobile LLC)
8. Pandora Radio (Pandora Media, Inc.)
9. Google Earth (Google)
10. My Horse (NaturalMotion)*

So as you can see, 23 of the 40 of the top iOS apps, both free and paid, are mobile games. These are all apps that have been downloaded millions of times. It is incredible to see such widespread acclaim for video games, growing up as a gamer video games were always more of a niche hobby. Then sports video games such as Madden and Fifa brought a different crowd: one that primarily played video games of sports, when they weren’t outside playing the actual sport. After that, immensely popular shooter series like Halo and Call of Duty brought their own crowds, one that primarily only plays super popular shooters.

But now all those groups appear insignificant against the size of the fan base of mobile games.

Virtually everyone has a phone, everyone gets bored, enter: the mobile game.

Casual games, hardcore games, shooters or puzzle games, it really makes no difference as companies like Rovio make the next generation’s Tetris in Angry Birds, or renowned hardcore game developers such as Epic produce mobile games of a more serious nature in Infinity Blade. Mobile games are here to stay, and I am just happy to see so many people enjoying the very best of hobbies.

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