“The future of gaming” … a big statement made along with every groundbreaking innovation in the gaming industry, perhaps, since it first exploded into the mainstream a few decades ago. At some point, everything from the Commodore 64 to Virtual Reality technology has been hailed as the future of the industry.
Each generation of console and gaming PC helped indeed to shape the market into the multi-billion dollar behemoth that it is today. While technological advancements keep things fresh and engaging for gamers and developers alike, there hasn’t been one single sector that is solely responsible for keeping gaming with the times.
That was until mobile gaming came to the forefront. It is the highest performing sector last year – pulling in a total of 45% ($68.5 billion) of the total gaming market in 2019. And by posting record growth during the first half of 2020, mobile is certainly shaping up to fit the acclaim.
Although it’s still a relatively new segment in the industry, mobile gaming is growing at an astonishing rate. It pulls in more revenues than any other sector and appeals to much broader demographics.
Skyrocketing in popularity, there are now about 2.9 billion mobile gamers in the world, a figure that represents a total of 71% of internet users. 1.2 billion people out of that figure, only play games on their mobile devices. That equates to one in three in the Asia Pacific, and the Middle East, and African regions. More people than ever before are choosing to engage with gaming apps, making the humble smartphone the most popular gaming device in history. Beating out even mega consoles like the PlayStation 4 and PCs.
Consequently, this dramatic rise in mobile usage meant that mobile gaming revenues are once again set to dwarf the PC and console sectors this year. According to AppAnnie and IDC, total revenues for the sector will exceed $100 billion before December 31st. That is more than triple the combined projected revenues for the PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.
Between February and March alone, spending on mobile games in Europe grew by 12% to $740 million – a brand new monthly record. Moreover, in-app purchases and microtransactions have also shot up by 24% since January.
Factors affecting growth
So, what’s the secret that made mobile games the second most popular type of app in app stores all over the world?
For starters, mobile has proven to be one of the most accessible gaming mediums, largely because of its overall affordability and the diverse array of gaming apps available. Gamers use their smartphones to play everything from eSports games like PUBG mobile to real money poker apps like PokerStars, and, that is not just in the more financially lucrative western markets.
Increased smartphone penetration in the Indian region in recent years has made it one of the top five countries for mobile gaming. In 2018, the market was already comprised of almost 270 million users. A number that is expected to rise to 368 million by 2022.
Another factor is affordability. Mobile games cost a lot less than their console or PC counterparts, with even major releases like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Mobile that can be downloaded for free. The sheer amount of free-to-play mobile titles means that anyone with a smartphone can find games that appeal to them and start playing immediately.
Interestingly, the in-app purchase business model that underpins F2P gaming apps has contributed to a loyalty system. In-app rewards keep players coming back time and time again. After all, it’s much cheaper to make a microtransaction of a few dollars for an in-game boost that unlocks new levels and content, than it is to buy a brand-new console title.
Here come the girls…
There’s also a new trend emerging within the mobile gaming sector that shows female players becoming the dominant audience. Girls in gaming have been making major advances in breaking the glass ceiling and shattering the stereotypes within the industry for years. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that mobile has piqued the attention of the women of the world.
Most recent statistics reveal that female smartphone users make up 55% of the total mobile gaming user-base. With three in four women in the US doing so daily. A high percentage don’t even consider themselves gamers, even though usage stats suggest otherwise. Female players also wield a considerable amount of purchasing power, with the tendency to engage more with in-app advertising than male players. So, they’re sustaining the growth of the sector from the inside.
What’s even more interesting is that the highest-performing gaming apps in the world don’t specifically cater to the female audience. Top-grossing games like Garena Free Fire, PUBG, and ASMR Slicing are pretty far removed from the fashion-and-fluff-oriented titles that the advertising industry would have us believe are preferred by women gamers.
Candy Crush – Royalty free from Needpix
Fortnite – Royalty free from Pixist
Guest Author Bio
Trenton J. Smith
Trenton is an aspiring writer who loves to research and write about a wide variety of topics. When he is not writing, he enjoys gardening and long walks with his dog Boomer.