If you thought that you’re not addicted to games, the COVID-19 lockdown has probably proved you wrong. The fact is that more than 60% of UK adults are playing games, not to mention those that are under 18 years of age.
Another fact is that money spent on mobile games has surpassed 1.2 billion pounds. A hefty sum, considering that the market share of mobile gaming back in 2012 was just 18%. Now it’s bigger than PC and console gaming combined.
So what is the reason behind mobile gaming taking the lead?
Nearly in Every Pocket
The reason for such a high-gross revenue of mobile gaming lies in the enormous market potential for every game developed for either iOS or Android. From 66 million people in the UK, 56.1 million have a smartphone in their pocket, which is far more compared to those owning a PC or a console. Having a smartphone instead of a cellphone and then a console and TV (or a PC and monitor) is not only far more suitable, but also far more affordable.
Furthermore, since smartphones are portable and easily accessible, they’re the best choice for casual gamers who enjoy playing games online and on the go, be it puzzle games, first-person shooters or even some popular casino classics. Even people who have never played a game on a console or PC can’t resist the addictive nature of mobile games and the immense variety of genres that creates such universal appeal. Instead of going to the store to buy a game, you just need to download them in a matter of seconds.
Investment, Instead of Purchase
Okay, there is a huge market, but that still doesn’t explain the astonishing revenue since most mobile games are free, right? Well, you need to understand that the way of making money with mobile games is very different from the console and PC market. While you buy PC and console games as one-off purchases, free mobile games are usually long-term investments. You’ll spend between 50 and 100 pounds on PC/console game to get the full gaming experience. You’ll get a mobile game for free, but it’ll be designed to restrict gameplay unless you pay the required amount or to simply make the game ad-free.
This doesn’t mean you couldn’t play mobile games without paying, but you’ll want to do it in order to buy new cosmetic or functional features and items. After playing a game for several months or even weeks, average players will most likely start spending money on small impulsive purchases. These in-app microtransactions are the main revenue streams when it comes to mobile gaming.
Many mobile games will provide you with free in-game currency in the beginning that you’ll receive as you spend time playing. But later, after you’ve been given a taste of what you can buy, you’ll need to purchase more currency for real money. Suffice to say, these baiting techniques wouldn’t work with PC or console games that already have a high price at the initial purchase.
Of course, it’s not only about portability, accessibility, and a miniscule (or free) initial purchase. That wouldn’t be enough if the quality of mobile games was far behind the quality of those for consoles or the PC. But with immensely increased RAM sizes, far more powerful processors, and increased size and resolution of mobile screens, this is certainly not the case. After mobile devices started using the cloud, there was no doubt that these types of games can effectively compete with PCs and consoles.
This improved quality of mobile gaming allowed developers to create full 3D games mimicking those available on consoles and PCs, broadening their audience further. With mobile games that were available only on consoles and computers, many people who couldn’t enjoy them due to the lack of appropriate equipment can now join the fun. Mobile versions of some games have even brought their success to a whole new level as was the case with PUBG and Fortnite.
Naturally, this made major gaming companies join the craze and start developing more fully-fledged games tailored for your handheld devices. It’s enough to say that some of the biggest studios, like Blizzard and Bethesda, are working on mobile versions of some of their most famous titles, Diablo and the Elder Scrolls respectively. The rise of high-quality mobile games that already have their cult following will also enable developers to ditch the above-mentioned bating techniques and replace them with fair monetization ones without any loss of revenue.
Less is More
While developing games for smartphones still poses some limitations and challenges, these are actually inspiring developers to find new creative ways around them and to do even better. This is why the story doesn’t end with simple imitations of PC and console games. Besides those publishers that have recognized the value of mobile versions of games – Blizzard, Bethesda, Nintendo, Sony, Sega, Microsoft, etc. – some have specialised in mobile gaming. The best example is Tencent, the Chinese developer whose revenues are twice that of Sony.
To sum up – mobile games are portable, far more accessible, and way cheaper in terms of the initial purchase. With each passing day, mobile gaming continues to be improved by the numerous developers focusing their attention on this highly lucrative part of the industry. With continued innovation in both hardware and software, the mobile gaming industry continues to grow and innovate with no apparent end in sight.