The gaming world has transformed dramatically over the past few years, as emerging technology trends have stuck around for longer than initially predicted and played a role in shaping the industry into what it is today. In 2020, consumers have a broad choice of gaming options, from MMORPGs, virtual reality games, online RPGs built on blockchain tech, and professional gaming tournaments, to massively upgraded video game consoles and PCs.
With all this advanced tech and connection possibilities to hand, who would’ve thought that something like mobile gaming would go on to become one of the most dominant sectors in the gaming industry in 2020? Well, that’s exactly what has happened so far during the first few months of the year.
The world’s chosen form of entertainment for spring 2020?
Recently compiled statistics are proving that now, more than ever before, an increased number of consumers are playing mobile games as a form of entertainment. According to one survey that conducted research into the daily habits of key demographics in the EMEA and LATAM regions, 85% of consumers now actively play mobile games on a regular basis, with just under half (47%) playing mobile games every day.
Whilst some of the respondents were keen gamers anyway, 32% of the mobile users surveyed confirmed that they were branching out into the sector and had begun downloading new games onto their smartphones.
Has mobile gaming, in just a three-month timespan (the research quoted above was conducted in March 2020), become the world’s most popular form of entertainment so far this year? Without additional extensive research, it would be hard to say for sure, but given that the mobile gaming sector has been expanding more in value year on year than the global average anyway, it is certainly one of the fastest-growing of the year.
The factors contributing to growth
As more and more people spend increased lengths of time at home and online, mobile gaming is surging in popularity. During February 2020, global mobile game downloads had shot up by 39% when compared to the previous month, and in China – where mobile gaming is equal to console and online gaming – App Store downloads had increased by as much as 62% during that same month.
So why mobile games, and not their console or online counterparts?
For one, accessibility. Mobile technology has advanced so much that even today’s cheap smartphones are more than capable of running a mobile gaming app.
Secondly, the cost. Streaming a game online can be a cheaper alternative to buying it for a PC or console outright, but it still costs a lot more than a mobile game. Even infinitely popular games like King’s Candy Crush Saga are free to download and play, instead of giving consumers the option to make micro purchases that will help them progress more quickly through the game.
Then there’s the sheer variety of the types of games that are released on mobile devices. Epic Games’ Fortnite and Garena Freefire are both relatively recent releases that are pushing the boundaries of what is possible gaming-wise on a mobile device.
Mobile gaming isn’t all first-person shooters or battle royale extravaganzas either; puzzle and hypercasual genres are proving to be just as attractive to consumers as those flagship releases, if not more. Zynga Games, the publisher behind Words with Friends and Farmville, has just published financial figures showing a 50% leap in sales during 2020. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s mobile game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has seen player spending hit an all-time high of $7.9 million during April.
Mobile gaming has gotten serious
As popular as trends like hypercasual and free to play games are, there’s also a serious side to mobile gaming that is ensuring its growth in popularity with dedicated gamers and older demographics.
iGaming, for example, has become a key trend in the sector with the more “grown-up” player demographics. Brands like PokerStars have pioneered mobile versions of iGaming platforms, which offer the same diverse range of games and prizes as their desktop counterparts but in a more convenient format. This has led to increased uptake of real money gaming on the go amongst players aged 25 and over, to who playing mobile casino and poker games are as valid a form of entertainment as scrolling through social media or streaming content on their mobile devices.
In 2020, we’re also starting to see mobile eSports emerge as a strong trend in the European and US gaming markets (mobile eSports has been a key part of the eSports industry as a whole in Asian regions like China since day one). Titles like PUBG Mobile from Tencent, Supercell’s Clash Royale, and Super Evil Corp’s Vainglory are already well-established eSports games, with official leagues and regular tournaments. However, new kids on the block like Call of Duty: Mobile are leading the way for mobile eSports in this new decade, along with World Championship tournaments and lucrative prize money that are designed to turn the heads of pro console and PC gamers.