If you find the term “Mobile Gamer” upsetting, chances are you’re not alone. With its huge market and profit, mobile leagues are only going to continue changing the landscape of the esports industry, throwing off the balance of console and PC gamers for some time to come.
Mobile games used to come in the form of Temple Run and Flappy Birds, removed titles with absolutely no foreshadowing of the biggest platform games to come. Since then, triple A titles have inched their way from the console and PCs into the palm of our hands. Where once was Subway Surfer has now been replaced with with opportunities to play MOBAs, PUBG, or even C.O.D. with just a few fingers and a way tinier screen at which to rage.
If you’re like many, then you’re probably stuck wondering how this sharp turn happened and how these mobile tournaments even got taken seriously in the first place. The answer: mobile has an extremely huge market behind it, and the figures it brings in every year are too high for many companies to ignore.
According to NikoPartners, the yearly revenue from mobile games brought in $15.32 Billion in 2018 alone before seeing a 26.2% increase carried over into 2019. This is, in large part, is due to the fact that there are more mobile players active than there are for consoles and PC games combined. If you were one of the big-name publishers in either of those markets, it would make sense for you to eventually branch off into that category. After all, you’d be pulling in a brand-new audience with fewer obstacles to hold you back.
Much like making a competitive game free-to-play will bring in more players and a possible increase in esports teams, your product is now in the hands of people who only need a smartphone. You won’t need a high-quality PC rig to compete, just enough free space on your phone and a steady enough internet connection to get you set. With the market and ease of access being the main drives of mobile esports, it’s something we can expect to stay in for the long run.
Is this a good thing? Well, yes. People now have access to try games that they were previously blocked from trying, whether it be from financial or hardware issues. It also means that you’re more likely to see some AAA games get pushed into your app store. Even if these games are five to ten years old, they’ll undoubtedly spike the total number of players due to its accessibility on a global scale. With a huge market backing, modern-day games will get a new life on mobile.
It does leave many questions unanswered. How will the huge mobile market impact the esports industry as a whole? There are many ways where this kind of pandering can backfire, but I’m personally not worried about publishers catering solely to mobile users when we have 100s of millions of console players and over a billion on PC.
Mobile games were able to gain the attention of already-popular games and publishers with the huge market they’ve provided. With big audiences come big sponsors. Almost everyone has a cell phone, and a high percent of those people have smartphones capable of running well-known games. Almost everyone who plays on PC and console has a mobile counterpart downloaded on their phone, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the same situation reversed. The ease of access to potential new players on a global scale seems like and quite honestly is a smart move to make. With benefits of higher revenue, prolonged shelf life of popular games, and a seemingly “built-in” audience, the motivations behind the mobile game takeover are clear. The factor to keep an eye on is, how much is this going to change the landscape of the esports industry? Time will only tell.