The global gaming market is estimated to be worth around $152 billion. The common conception of video games revolves around consoles and PC gaming, but actually, 45% of that overall value comes directly from mobile game sales.
Mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads for both Android and iPhone users, which equates to around 74% of all cash spent on mobile apps. One-third of the global population will download and play a mobile game, compared to just 17% of the global population who will purchase the latest console release.
With the mobile gaming market expected to grow by as much as 10% over the next year and attract investment of around $9.6 billion, we’ll be looking at why the humble smartphone is now leading the gaming industry.
Smartphone Power Is Growing
The most obvious factor in the rise of the smartphone gaming industry is the increasing power of smartphones themselves.
While modern gamers are just as interested in story and mechanics as they are in graphics, there is still a sales advantage to producing a delightful-looking game, especially when it is being released into the market saturated with other titles.
As smartphones get increasingly powerful, their ability to support games with graphics that come close to console and PC levels also increases, closing the distance between mobile gaming the more traditional formats while enhancing the other benefits of gaming on a mobile platform.
Portability and Convenience
Portability and convenience are two of the principal reasons that smartphones are popular. The ability to have a vast range of functions on a device small enough to fit in your pocket has made smartphones ubiquitous, and mobile games are even more popular because they’re easily accessible every time you’ve got a spare 10 minutes.
Ironically, the success of the Nintendo Switch console has only underscored this. The Switch has become hugely popular for two crucial reasons. The quality to the titles that have been released for it, and the fact that it combines those enjoyable games with portability and convenience.
A Greater Variety of Titles
The development of console games has become dominated by annual releases of well-known popular games series.
While this means that fans of those games are well serviced, the increased cost of developing a game, and the huge marketing budgets of the major developers, make it very hard to succeed for indy developers looking to come up with something innovative. The beauty of the mobile space, on the other hand, is that it has yet to be dominated by certain games or companies.
You can certainly play AAA games like Call of Duty or Fortnite, but you can also have some amazing VR experiences, play games that have been lovingly crafted by one person, or even hold a family game night with people on the other side of the globe because smartphone penetration means you can all play monopoly online.
While not as prevalent as it used to be, the ‘gamer’ space on traditional platforms like PC or consoles, is still largely male-dominated. This is not true of the mobile gaming space, which had far great equality when it comes to gender.
The average age of those downloading gaming apps is 36 and more women (51%) play mobile games than men do (49%).
Part of this is because mobile games are specifically aimed at those decried as ‘casuals’ by some part of the gaming community. These games are made more accessible through easy to master, pick-up-and-play mechanics, that don’t require hundreds of hours to master and are therefore much more accessible.
Obviously, no sector can achieve startling growth in the way that the mobile gaming industry has without significant investment. Within the industry, gaming titans like Tencent, Supercell, and Ubisoft have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in acquiring mobile gaming studios.
Outside the gaming industry, private equity firms have woken up to the potential value of the mobile gaming industry, with Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, and KKR all investing heavily in mobile gaming enterprises and startups.
The convenience and accessibility of mobile gaming, coupled with the heavy investment has transformed the gaming industry as we know it and this will continue well into the future.