Where Do You Play Your Games – Mobile Gaming


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.chartoftheday_8525_most_important_gaming_platforms_n

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. Pokemon GO Fans Converge At Sydney Opera HouseMoreover, 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.





  1. mqzhang · ·

    Thanks for this great post, Nero! Coincidentally, I just read an article (https://kotaku.com/teens-and-teachers-say-fortnite-mobile-is-destroying-so-1823997450) about how Fortnight and PUBG are clogging high school WiFi networks and decreasing available bandwidth. As a side note, I never had public WiFi at my HS back in those days…

    Regarding the state of mobile gaming today, it’s crazy how powerful our phones have become! We hold devices as powerful (or even more so) than computers in our pockets today, enabling us to run applications and software that was formerly reserved only for much less portable solutions in the past. While the early stages of mobile gaming, encompassing Temple Run and Angry Birds, were little more than glorified flash games, we now have Xbox 360/PS3-quality games today, showcasing how quickly portable games have evolved to become blockbusters and huge money-making opportunities.

    The biggest problem I’ve seen in the mobile gaming sphere is the reluctance of certain demographics to pay for games, as well as the overuse of incremental payment monetization models as pay-to-win options for players. Although iOS and Play Store game downloads are spiking, Play Store revenues from games are much lower than that of its iOS counterpart. I can only assume that the average Apple user has a higher willingness-to-pay than Android users do. Though this trend has decreased in recent years with the release of significantly better games, I hope companies will create initiatives that will incentivize mobile gamers to pay for games more willingly. Perhaps releasing the full game under a time lock that stops the game after X-amount of time until payment will allow gamers to have the full experience that will also drive increased revenue for companies.

    Regarding micro-transactions, there is a right and wrong method of using this mechanism to drive increased revenues. The right way is to release aesthetic-only changes to allow increased customization options for those who truly seek them. For the wrong way, one need only examine EA’s epic fumble with Star Wars Battlefront 2 to learn that allowing those who pay to access game-altering abilities and characters is a dangerous deterrent to long-term player engagement.

    I think we have only seen the beginning of mobile game development. As we cram better, faster, and more power-efficient cores into our phones, it’s almost a certainty that we will soon see games that rival the quality of the most recent generation of consoles. Although PC-quality gaming may be a while away from these tiny devices, it’s always nice to have something to aspire to!

    1. NeroC1337 · ·

      Thank you so much for this long comment. Because of this post, I actually went on download a couple of the Battle Royale game. Honestly, you could hardly tell the graphic difference between the one on mobile with the one on PC. However, the controlling is just bugging me a lot. Trying to aim with your thumbs dragging on your screen is not the way to go for me. But apparently I cannot speak for majority. Many and many of my friends back in China are playing PUBG on mobile. And right now, the in-game micro-transaction has been a big revenue stream for companies like Tencent, and beyond that, mobile-games are also showing up on many e-Sports events in China as well. Although Asian countries are normally lagging behind on the gaming industry, they are definitely the leader in the mobile gaming industry.

  2. Addison LeBeau · ·

    This was a cool post Nero! I’m not much of a gamer, so this was all news to me, but I recognized a lot of the gaming systems and games mentioned in the post. Of course, I hopped on the Pokémon-Go trend when it was popular, and I remember being out on weekends and seeing crowds of kids swarming the streets trying to catch Pokémon. That was my first REAL experience with mobile gaming.

    The part of your post that really resonated with me was when you explained that the mobile platform is a lot more accessible than gaming consoles. I would never think to spend my money on a gaming console, but if there is a free download of a game, or even a popular game that costs $1.99, I’ll be tempted to try it out! After all, if I don’t like it I can just delete the app and no harm is done. I think this sort of mentality is how mobile gaming grows. I think that mobile gaming’s target audience isn’t hardcore gamers – because they will be on-board regardless – but rather the fringe users (like myself) who could be more easily convinced to download an app than purchase a $50 game for a console.

  3. oliverhowe14 · ·

    I would not say that I am an avid gamer, but I definitely put in my hours each week playing whatever game catches my eye that day. Although mobile gaming is on a meteoric rise, i do not think that they will be able to sustain this rise. With the growing complexity of games, and with the increased need for precise controls, there is only so much that you can do with your thumbs. Mobile gaming will always have a place with casual gamers looking for a good game that they can pick up and put down whenever they like, but I believe that consoles and PCs will keep the lead when it comes to more complex games, especially multiplayer games.

  4. profgarbusm · ·

    Hi Nero! Great post and a topic I love to talk about. First and foremost I do not think mobile gaming will come anywhere close to replacing console and PC gaming, but it is a lovely alternative. While I much prefer to play Fortnite on my PC, it’s great to squeeze in a quick game on the T via my cell phone. I just think that cell phones lack proper, natural feeling controllers like the gamecube or the keyboard/mouse combo. It’s way too difficult and the screens are much too small to allow for the high-pace speed certain game combinations require. The famous BXR combination from Halo2 took far less than a second to do, and tapping 3 different things on a phone is just not possible like that. Mobile gaming a great alternative, but I don’t think it’s even in the same sphere as other types of gaming.

  5. kikinitwithraf · ·

    Great post Nero! I never would have imagined that I would spend some of my free time playing mobile games, but its true…i do. I don’t think mobile gaming will ever replace consoles, but with people constantly on the go, its a great way to entertain people. What I find interesting is that even with mobile gaming becoming so mainstream, companies like Nintendo recently introduced their Switch platform which essentially does the same thing. It would be interesting to see if this strategy from Nintendo was a means to mitigate a decline in consumer interactions. Nonetheless, the future of mobile gaming is bright ($$$).

  6. Nice post. I think one of the keys to mobile gaming is that you can really play it in the “in between time”, rather than having to sit down and dedicate time to gaming on a PC/ Console.

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