I have been hesitant to talk about the topic of mobile gaming for a very long time, simply because I am hardcore PC-gamer, believing that PC is and always will be the only true platform for gaming. However, recently I have been bombarded by mobile game advertisement every time I tried to watch a YouTube. (Interestingly but also very intuitively, the mobile game ads only show up when I watch through YouTube mobile app. But when I use my desktop browser, the ads just adjust to target my cookie history.) Therefore, I decided to take a step back and share my thoughts on the mobile gaming industry.
Needless to say, gaming has come a long way before mobile gaming. The earliest known publicly demonstrated video game was created in 1950s, Bertie the Brain, was played on a specialized computer. Many programmers were designing games on computers before the video game industry actually took off. Until the first generation of video games consoles, The Magnavox Odyssey, the video games market really started to grow into mainstream. Then generations after generations of video game consoles were invented: home-console, handheld game console, etc. With PCs and gaming consoles dominating the gaming platform for so long, the industry has experienced a new player, mobile, in the past decade.
A couple years ago, I would never think that mobile could have a chance overtaking, or even replacing all the other gaming platforms. Yeah, it was true that everyone was playing Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, or even games like Clash of Clay, and mobile definitely has showed its ability to be part of the gaming platform community. Nevertheless, many numbers are telling that “part of” is not enough for mobile platform. In 2017, the global mobile and tablet games market surpassed $46.1 billion, growing 19% from the previous year, and Asia-Pacific was by far the largest contributor of that. Tencent, the Chinese tech-giant, along has hooked over 500 million mobile gamers. To put that number into perspective, according to IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the global music industry market was at $15.8 billion in 2016, that was one-third of the mobile and tablet games market.
Why is that? First, the hardware itself is highly accessible. Almost every single person around you nowadays owns a cell phone, but the same could not be said to gaming consoles, such as XBOX and PlayStation, or Gaming PC. On the other hand, you carry your phone with you almost all the time, because they are pocket-sized, easy to carry, and you need them for other purposes any way. Then what happened was Pokémon-Go. Moreover, not only do phones are more accessible than many other gaming platform, they are powerful as well. The new iPhone X has a more powerful chip than many of the Intel chips powering Apple’s 2017 MacBook. With larger storage space, bigger screen, your smart phones can do just as much as your computers can if not more. Better devices will come with better games. With blockbuster titles like Players Unknown’s Battleground, and of course Fortnite moving onto the mobile platform, now people could even play their favorite games anywhere they want, anytime they want. What’s more compelling is that many high-quality games are now only available on mobile. Titles such as Monument Valley, Alto’s Odyssey would be considered more than just a game but an art from their fans.
Now, who are the winners? Undoubtedly, Apple and Google, who owning the major operating systems on most of the cellphones, just find another way to monetize the heck out of their consumers. Meanwhile, the game-section download only accounted for roughly 35% of the total worldwide download, nearly 80% of the total worldwide consumer spending was on gaming for the combined iOS and Google Play app store in 2017.
As I have said in my previous blog posts that gaming industry is one of fastest growing industry, mobile-section is faster. While I still have my doubt in whether or not mobile will replace the traditional way of gaming, the numbers are yet hard to argue with.