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The gaming industry has grown exponentially in the last few years, attracting unprecedented crowds to a rapidly expanding global community. And while a decade ago that would have meant a rise in console and PC gaming, it has now become clear that the future of gaming is mobile. As smartphones are set to claim the biggest share of the industry’s revenue in 2020, we take a look at what lies beyond, and which trends are projected to shape the future of mobile gaming and mobile esports.
Big names take to the small screen
So far, the industry has seen standalone gaming titles like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite send players into a frenzy. The battle royale invested in the perfect balance between fun and exciting gameplay with a simple and user-friendly scenario. Its straightforward objective means it can be picked up with ease, and the diversity across graphics, characters, and features means that the player will hardly get tired of it. Yet even though PUBG and its counterparts will always be an integral part of mobile gaming, it seems that one trend is the engagement of studios that have a long-standing presence in PC and console gaming.
The future of mobile gaming will see a greater diversity across titles that are based on existing and wildly popular franchises. As revenue rises in the mobile sector, developers are keen to redirect some efforts into creating dedicated mobile titles to tap into the potential of the emerging market. Riot Games is certainly eager to reach out to mobile gamers by releasing their League of Legends: Wild Rift title which brings their immensely popular MOBA game to mobile audiences. It is no secret that Riot Games took a bit of persuading to decide to develop an LoL mobile spin-off, as it took the success of Honor of Kings and Arena of Valor to really motivate them.
But where Riot Games goes, others will surely follow, and we might soon see some of the most popular IPs released titles tailored for mobile devices. Call of Duty: Mobile, which was released in October 2019, was another prominent example of this trend – and we will surely see more after Wild Rift is released in 2020. Riot Games has already explained that the phone specs for the game will be set as low as possible without spoiling the experience, in a bid to allow the game to be played on as many devices as possible.
New tech will aid mobile eSports
The release of a major MOBA title on mobile brings us to the second big trend of 2020 and beyond: mobile eSports. Competitive gaming has gained so much traction lately that even non-gamers have noticed. From LoL and Dota 2 to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and FIFA 20, eSports compile the most popular gaming titles across the globe, as proved by their predominance on eSports betting sites. The industry-first started out in Asian countries, with South Korea licensing professional players since 2000. But from just 10 tournaments that year, within a decade more than 260 have sprung up – with viewership and prize pools rising to unprecedented figures in 2020.
Mobile eSports tournaments like the PUBG Mobile Club Open and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang have paved the way for the mobile sector to take up a bigger slice of the professional gaming market. Just as the advent of fast and cheap broadband internet spawned the eSports sector in Asia, so will the rolling out of faster, more reliable mobile internet connection 5G tech boost the numbers of mobile eSports gamers. Platforms like Twitch have also contributed crucially to diversity in eSports, as they help professional gamers connect directly with their audience. All in all, the harnessing of new tech and opportunities is set to propel mobile eSports forward, just like it did with gaming in general.
Free-to-play and monetization options
According to Newzoo, the worldwide eSports market revenue is set to top $1 billion in 2020. China will provide the lion’s share with a staggering $385.1 million, while North America will follow at a total of $252.8 million. The $1 billion will be a milestone for the industry, and it seems that mobile eSports are growing quicker than regular eSports. This mirrors the increased revenue potential that mobile gaming has demonstrated in recent years
Mobile gaming has unlocked the eSports potential in emerging markets, as Newzoo reports. This is in part due to a clever combination of free-to-play games that are accessible to the players from any background and at any budget. Revenue then comes by monetization techniques like in-app purchases, upgrades, and seasonal specials, as well as merchandise. Over $820 million or almost 75% of the eSports revenue will come from sponsorships and media rights, Newzoo explains, while merch and tickets will account for a further $121.7 million.
As mobile games claim more players and viewers, launching free-to-play titles guarantees the widest demographic pool possible – and that is why the sector will keep investing in that direction and thus help in shape mobile esports beyond 2020.
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