Round Table Blog #6 – Here’s What You Need To Know About Mobile Gaming

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Here’s What You Need to Know About Mobile Gaming

When gamers talk about where they first started out playing video games, often we hear about their older sibling’s PS1, or the NES that was in their basement. My generation grew up playing the classic consoles and games we’ve come to know and love. Where are rising and future generations getting their start? Mobile games.
Ahhh yes, mobile gaming. The gray, fuzzy area of the industry that not many people know much about, and approach it with apprehension and uncertainty. Is it considered gaming? Or does it stand alone as its own industry? It’s something that doesn’t quite make its way into mainstream gaming, but faintly lies on the outskirts and slips into the newstream now and then. Because of that, we as gamers don’t really know where to place this ambiguous sector of gaming. However, when I began researching, I was shocked that we all hadn’t heard more about mobile gaming, and that there wasn’t a large and outspoken fanbase preaching it’s greatness. Hold on, stay with me. Here’s why I say that – according to Newzoo, mobile gaming revenue makes up over 50% of the Global Gaming Market as of 2018. Yeah, I know. I was more than a little surprised too. I was mostly surprised by how dominant of a force mobile gaming is, despite the fact we rarely hear of it and most of us know virtually nothing about it.
With that kind of money behind it, $137.9 billion, to be exact, it seems like mobile gaming is not just some passing or niche fad. In fact, it is predicted that the revenue and worth of the industry will only continue to skyrocket. Because of this, everyone and everything is trying to get in on the mobile gaming action – so ready or not, here it comes. We traditional gamers, and even the general public, will begin to notice mobile gaming having more of a presence in our everyday lives. Now, for all of you that are like me, feeling uninformed and exposed, don’t worry – here’s what you need to know about mobile gaming.
According to the same Newzoo article, mobile gaming dates back to 2007 with the launch of the first iPhone. From its advent, mobile gaming has always grown at a tremendous rate. In fact, the percentage of revenue growth has been in the double digits for the past 10 years. As shocking as it is, the revenue of mobile gaming platforms heavily trumps that of consoles and PCs. In fact, “in the span of a decade, mobile gaming will have grown from the smallest segment in 2012 to a 100-billion-dollar industry in 2021.” The area of the industry we love and have familiarized ourselves with will be just a sliver of the overall gaming industry. Hard to believe? I get it. So, let’s break down the numbers that contribute to this hundred-billion dollar industry, according to the State of the Gaming Apps Market November 2017 report:
– 95 million app installs
– 1,300 total apps used
– 750 apps measuring revenue
– $150 million in revenue
Via Appsflyer

Asus ROG Gaming Phone via Tech News India
So, with all the millions and billions flying around here, there’s probably a lot of money being thrown at mobile gaming, and a lot of people are probably trying to get in on the action, right? If you said “…sure?” you would be correct. One of the big ways companies are trying to get in on mobile gaming is through the creation of “gaming phones” – phones with advanced cooling technology and higher processors. They exude power and speed, which requires advanced cooling technology (and some LED lights, cause we’re suckers for that kind of thing). Basically, it’s just a mini, touchscreen gaming computer. Everyone from ASUS, to Razer, to Xiaomi have gotten in on the gaming smartphone fad. However, this technique is a short-lived strategy. Although gaming phones might be a necessary upgrade for serious mobile gamers right now, in the future, all phone will be gaming phones. Although this is bad for the likes of ASUS and Razer, it is good for the mobile gaming industry, indicating high growth and involvement. As gadget at tech writer JC Torres states –
“Mobile gaming has become a billion dollar industry that everyone, including governments and regulators, are suddenly taking very seriously. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s a gaming smartphone market that’s ripe for the picking. On the contrary, it’s exactly because of that lucrative mobile gaming market that all smartphone makers will want to put out a phone that can serve gamers just as well.”

So, as most of you have probably been asking, and at this point screaming, throughout the post so far, how does this relate to esports? Well, I’m glad you asked. Mobile esports is a tricky category that requires some differentiation and outlining. One big guideline in what makes a mobile esport is that they “exclude games that have a mobile presence, but see professional competitive play almost exclusively on other platforms.” So, for all of you that love playing Hearthstone, PUBG, and Fortnite on your phones, and while there are still tournaments and competitive scenes for it, we will focus on the games that see play solely on mobile devices. For games like PUBG and Hearthstone, when they see competitive play, it is most often on a PC, or occasionally console.
Additionally, mobile esports is unique in that it is accessible to nearly everyone, since most people have a smartphone in their pocket right now. It’s not always a possibility for people to buy several-hundred dollar consoles, or, as are popular in the esports community, several-thousand dollar computer setups. Allowing esports to be more accessible allows for larger overall growth and involvement, a wider range of talent, and a more interconnected community.

Arena of Valor at ESL’s Esports Arena at E3 2018 via VentureBeat
At E3 2018, the ESL esports arena featured Arena of Valor, a mobile gaming title that has begun creeping into the general esports scene. Arena of Valor is just one of many competitive mobile games that have begun to push mobile esports to the center stage. The Mobile Gaming League, or MGL, (if you continue to read it as MLG, don’t worry, you’re not alone) launched mid-2018. The League has begun with Vainglory and Armajet, but plans to quickly expand into other titles. Along with the Arena of valor and Vainglory, some of the other more popular titles in mobile gaming and esports include Clash Royale, Honor of Kings, Summoners War, and Mobile Legends.

CRL Quarterfinals in Helsinki via Redbull
Mobile esports has only just begun to rear its head. In the coming years, as esports and gaming as a whole grow, so will mobile gaming. With a greater demand for new esports games, teams, and communities, now is the perfect time for mobile esports to carve out its niche. The growth rate of mobile gaming is only projected to go up as the years go forward, meaning its place and prominence in the industry will as well. So, although mobile gaming may seem niche or unrelated, it is anything but. Mobile gaming is here to stay, so we’d better get used to it.
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