Mobile gaming has seen explosive growth in recent years, and it is changing the definition of what it means to be a gamer. Newzoo’s 2022 gaming report showed that the global mobile gaming market generated revenue of $92.2 billion in 2022. The mobile market now represents 50% of total revenue generated by gaming.
Research from Statista showed that in 2021 US mobile gamers were 55% female and 45% male, and that 25% of all players are between the ages of 25-34, with 18-24 year olds making up 20% of the market.
Geographically the Asian market is still the most prominent for mobile gaming with China, Japan and South Korea regularly being the top spending consumers. However the reach of mobile gaming spans across the globe and is especially becoming prevalent in developing countries where access to technology and infrastructure is improving.
Why has mobile gaming become so popular?
- Accessibility – there are now nearly 17 billion mobile devices (phones and tablets) globally, and this is only going to increase year on year. With many mobile games available free-to-play, access to a smartphone is often all you need to play popular games such as Roblox and Candy Crush Saga.
- Portability – Smartphones and tablets can be carried with you wherever you go, and this makes it easy to play games on the go. Many are designed to be played in short bursts, and this makes them ideal for busy lifestyles.
- Touch-based controls – Players interact by tapping, swiping, and dragging on the screen. This type of control scheme is intuitive and easy to use, making it suitable for anybody who knows how to use a smartphone.
- Improved infrastructure – improvement in high-speed internet connectivity and roll out of 5G networks is making it easier to play anywhere.
- Familiar IP – Developers have begun to leverage existing franchises to create mobile games that are familiar and appealing to a wider audience, with games like Marvel Snap and Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel being prime examples.
- Social mechanics – Many allow players to compete or cooperate with other players online, and for many this can be a major source of enjoyment. Mechanics such as challenges, leaderboards and achievements can encourage daily competition between friends.
Mobile gaming in esports
Mobile gaming esports has seen significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing popularity of mobile-first and mobile-only esports titles. Popular games including PUBG Mobile, COD Mobile, and Mobile Legends have all launched to compete for both play and watch time. These games have used their large and competitive player bases to successfully launch professional esports leagues and tournaments.
Mergers are already beginning to happen, most recently between traditional esports organisation NIP and mobile organisation eStar Gaming Victory Five (ESV5).
Despite mobile gaming esports being relatively new and still in development, it is expected to become a major sector within the esports industry in the future. It even has the potential to eclipse the traditional PC or console-based esports, due to the ever increasing popularity of mobile gaming.
In the coming months and years expect to see many collaborations between mobile games and brands looking to reach diverse audiences in untapped markets. The question is, could the rise of mobile gaming help to provide much needed cash injections and profitability into esports? Perhaps more importantly, will it lead to more age and gender diversity in the competitive space?