New research by Newzoo has reaffirmed the view that mobile gaming is at the front and centre of the global gaming industry. The study claims that mobile gaming revenue will generate two-fifths (40 percent) of the entire revenue in the gaming industry; significantly more than the 28 percent they predict console gaming will drive. These figures don’t necessarily mean the death knell of console gaming. In fact, they are more designed to pinpoint the rapid acceleration of mobile among casual gamers. Recently, the popularity of gaming saw the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially classify chronic gaming as a mental health condition, added to its official International Classification of Diseases.
Even some of the biggest players in the console gaming marketplace are acknowledging the potential of mobile. Shuntaro Furukawa, the incoming president of giant Japanese video game company Nintendo, believes Nintendo could generate smartphone gaming operations worth an eye-watering $910 million. Nintendo reported sales of one trillion yen for the year ending March 31, 2018, thanks mostly to the much-talked-about Switch, which is a console-handheld hybrid platform. It has only been two years since Nintendo made its first foray into mobile gaming, with Pokémon GO becoming a billion-dollar business thanks to its augmented reality-influenced action.
The concept of freemium gaming has had a significant bearing on the popularity of mobile gaming. Gaming developers have sought to create apps that are initially free-to-play as a means of hooking in casual gamers that are more reluctant to fork out money up front on new games. However, these freemium games are also designed to contain add-on packs that can expand and enhance gameplay for casual gamers if they like what they play.
Another reason why forecasters can confidently predict the industry will become a $100 billion market by 2021 is the growth of fledgling subsectors such as mobile poker, helping to breathe new life into the classic card game. Blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, is also influencing the creation of more transparent platforms for poker fans to play with dedicated cryptocurrencies, ensuring safer and fairer online poker environments. CoinPoker’s innovative crypto poker room can also be played on iOS and Android devices, providing the same functionality even on pocket-sized smartphones.
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge for mobile gaming developers is to find a way to position mobile games as a credible option for console gamers. Casual gamers that are commuting to work or looking to kill some time waiting for a dentist appointment are now the main target market. But for mobile gaming to break new ground, it must find innovative ways to appeal to the dedicated gaming fraternity. Namely, there are two sticking points: technology and game design. Developers can only hope that smartphones and tablets continue to refine their CPU and GPU performance while demonstrating ambition in mobile games design; blurring the lines between console and mobile game types. Esports could also have a significant bearing on the popularity of future mobile games, with titles such as Clash Royale becoming legitimate battlegrounds for professional video gamers.
It’s still difficult to imagine hardcore gamers stepping away from their desktop PC or console and sitting down to their handheld device instead. Screen sizing remains another big issue for gamers that enjoy the ability to play on vast widescreen televisions or gaming monitors for increased immersion. However, mobile gaming will always have a place in the industry, but whether it co-exists alongside console gaming or overtakes it entirely remains to be seen.
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