As smartphones become more indispensable to consumers, mobile gaming continues to grow at unprecedented levels. While gaming consoles remain popular, more and more developers and gaming studios are investing in mobile game applications and in mobile game outsorcing.
In fact, the mobile gaming industry was worth $68.5 billion last year, enjoying a bullish 11% year on year growth. In just a decade, mobile games have dominated the gaming industry—taking up 51% of its total revenues and eclipsing PC gaming returns.
This shift in consumer demand is being reflected in the latest game changers in this still burgeoning industry.
Here are five of the most important trends in mobile gaming you absolutely need to know about:
Bigger titles, better phones
Big industry names are importing the gaming experience from PC and gaming consoles to your phone. This can be seen in how immensely popular titles like Fortnite and PUBG have released mobile versions of their games, effectively expanding their user base. As mobile computing capabilities continue to improve, more big title games are replicating the console experience to mobile. Tech Radar cites Call of Duty and Elder Scrolls as some of the most recent additions to the trend of giant franchises going mobile.
Another game changer in this shift is the recent announcement of Google’s Stadia streaming service. Cloud-based gaming is poised to enable players to shift from consoles to phones with relative ease. This will force game developers to enable mobile gaming configuration in their newest and most popular titles. Other tech giants including Sony, Microsoft, and Tencent are also developing their own cloud-nested gaming platforms.
Smartphone manufacturers are also responding to this shift. At the moment, flagship phones remain the best devices to use for mobile gaming. But in the last decade, companies like ASUS have been creating phones specially designed for mobile gaming experiences. With insanely better phones and cloud-computing coming in, mobile gaming will soon be on par with, if not better than consoles.
Live events and eSports
Peer reviews and recommendations are the top reasons why people choose a gaming app over others. This is why viral loops in Clash of Clans have worked in the past. When friends and mutuals share their games via social media, people tend to explore the same apps. Bigger games like Pokémon Go are ramping this up with live events to increase their app downloads.
In the last two years, eSports have also moved into mobile gaming. VainGlory and Clash Royale both host professional tournaments that reach up to tens of thousands of viewers. The VainGlory World Championship in 2017, for example, had a prize pool of $140,000. Other massive online battle arenas (MOBA) like Tencent’s Arena of Valor and Moonton’s Mobile Legends have also moved into the eSports scene last year.
eSports tournaments will continue to fuel the demand for mobile games over the next few years. The ability to cater to this massively competitive experience will be crucial for the next hottest mobile gaming apps.
Cybersecurity in mobile gaming
As more and more people jump on the mobile gaming bandwagon, hackers and malicious entities will try to take advantage. New mobile games continue to pop up on the Play Store and Facebook every day. As mobile apps are easier to develop than full games, this constant flurry of games makes it harder for providers to verify each one – a huge opening for hackers.
Research from ZDNet found that 57% of fraudulent apps on the Google Play Store are categorized as mobile games. These apps serve to infect your phone with malicious adware or exploit account connections to Facebook and other platforms to hack login credentials. Special Counsel highlights that over 540 million Facebook user records were exposed after a leak last April – underscoring the dangers that interconnected accounts pose. Platforms have since tightened their cybersecurity protocols, with Google removing many stalkerware apps from the Play Store. Cybersecurity in mobile gaming applications will be a top concern both for developers and end-users in the coming years.
Niantic’s Pokémon Go has revolutionized mobile gaming. Immersive gaming is seen as the future of mobile applications. Titles like The Walking Dead Our World, Jurassic World Alive, and the recently released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite have all leveraged augmented reality to let users experience unique and engaging games.
While many say that there are still a lot more ways the technology can mature, developers are seeing great potential in AR gaming. A recent survey at GDC suggests that most game makers are confident that AR will dominate other applications in the next five years. With technological advances in computing power and 5G connectivity, developers are positive that mobile AR gaming will be able to elevate its attempts to blur the lines between games and reality.
Blockchain in gaming
Blockchain technology is disrupting a whole host of industries, and mobile gaming is no exception. As they leverage distributed ledgers as a platform, blockchain games are decentralized. This means unprecedented transparency and customizability. While titles like CryptoKitties and Fomo3D seem exotic right now, developers are exploring blockchain games to create more mainstream mobile games.
The future of blockchain games is reusable game assets. The in-game money and items in mobile games have questionable value outside the game’s environment. Blockchain games will completely change this. As blockchain-based assets are within distributed open databases, they can be tokenized and moved between games or even sold in real life as currency. As it is, there are only 650 ethereum Dapps categorized as games. But as the technology moves forward, it will bring mobile gaming to another level.
The rise of mobile gaming isn’t due to let up anytime soon, and developers and game studios are in for one hell of a ride.