Mobile gaming has taken the world by storm during the last decade and has fundamentally changed how both casual and hardcore players interact and socialise in gaming environments. Billions of people now play mobile games every month, and the industry is now worth more than the respective console and PC markets. At the heart of this thriving mobile gaming scene are powerful, connected smartphones and other forms of advanced tech, which will continue to shape the industry in 2018 and beyond. Here are a few emerging trends that will define the next 18 months.
Mobile game brands
The Pokemon Go phenomenon was the definitive case study of how hugely popular franchises can use the power of a brand name to deliver memorable gaming experiences to mobile devices. The full effects of Pokemon’s success are still being realised, but it is expected to fuel a wave of higher quality mobile options. Major publishers such as Ubisoft, Bethesda and Electronic Arts now recognise how a successful mobile game can amplify the reach and success of franchises such as FIFA and Fallout.
Mobile gaming will, therefore, be part of a more integrated marketing approach, where these publishers use apps and experiences on Android and iOS, along with social media influencers, celebrities and other trending platforms to make their brands more visible, which will then increase the potential profitability of their next major console or PC video game. Mobile will feed into the marketing cycle more than ever before.
The eSports gaming scene has traditionally been the domain of PC and console with multiplayer online battle arena franchises such as Dota 2 and League of Legends leading the way, but there are signs that mobile may be ready to take over. At the vanguard of this trend is the freemium mobile tower rush game Clash Royale, and the portable MOBA, Vainglory. While the scene may be in its infancy, industry experts believe it could potentially bring eSports to the mainstream for the first time.
Professional gamers playing video games competitively for audiences in arenas and on streaming platforms is soaring in popularity, and the industry is expected to be worth almost $1.5 billion by the end of the decade; however, mobile could propel it to new heights. The enthusiasm is being driven by mobile’s pick up and go nature. Mobile eSports is more viable for developers and publishers due to the convenience of portability, recent vast improvements in CPU and GPU performance, and the fact that more people around the world own a smartphone compared to a PC or console.
Mobile brought the freemium pricing model to the masses, and 2018 will see this approach develop and mature as developers look at new ways to get more people playing their games. Free-to-play is an excellent strategy for mobile as its audience is predominantly made up of casual gamers, who are reluctant to spend money up front, but are open to in-app purchases such as cosmetics and booster packs if they enjoy an in-game experience. Microtransactions were viewed negatively by console gaming audiences in 2017, but a new wave of user-friendly models such as “gacha” are rewarding loyal players with generous in-game currencies to spend on content.
PC and console were at the forefront of exciting multiplayer experiences in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but teenagers and younger gamers now prefer to engage socially via gaming apps, due to the popularity of platforms such as Snapchat. In 2018, mobile developers will integrate new features and methods to increase the social aspect of gaming, which will range from increased gifting options, so that friends can exchange virtual items, to more extensive social leader boards and trending events. There is also a growing appetite for real-time player-versus-player engagement. That is an area where the best UK casino sites are ahead of the pack with their mobile apps and websites offering a variety of real-time competitive experiences and a host of other classic card games and slots.
AR and VR
Mobile is also well positioned to take advantage of new developments in both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality due to the increasing power of smartphones and arrival of new peripherals, such as the Samsung Gear VR. Pokemon Go was an excellent showcase of AR tech for bringing people together to play mobile games socially, so developers are now likely to double down on those experiences and add more AR elements to transform how gamers play, both at home and in public environments.
Mobile gaming has long been in the shadow of its more prominent console and PC equivalents, but that looks set to change in the coming years as a wealth of new and exciting tech innovations and connected features take pocketable experiences to the next level.