Mobile Gaming Industry
Johnny Trigger, Brain Out, Hunter Assassin, Sand Balls, Garena Free Fire, Fun Race 3D, Homescapes, Candy Crush Saga, and Subway Surfers are currently some of the most popular mobile gaming titles. These games are mainly enjoyed by millennials and Gen Zers. Current trends in the global mobile gaming market include 5G, cloud, hardcore games, mobile esports, and the rise of hyper casual games. Some future trends are AR games, blockchain technology, and games as a service.
MOST POPULAR MOBILE GAMING TITLES WORLDWIDE
- As of January 2020, the most popular/most downloaded mobile game titles worldwide are:
- Johnny Trigger (SayGames): Johnny Trigger had around 44 million global downloads in January 2020 alone. The countries with the most installs of the game "during this period were United States at 16.1 percent of its total downloads and India at 10.5 percent."
- Brain Out (by Eyewind): The game was downloaded over 41 million times globally in January 2020. Indonesia and Vietnam were the countries with the largest number of Brain Out downloads.
- Hunter Assassin (Ruby Game Studio): Hunter Assassin was downloaded 36 million times in January 2020.
- Sand Balls (Say Games): The game had around 24 million global downloads in January 2020.
- Garena Free Fire: Winterlands (by Garena International): This game had 22 million worldwide downloads in January 2020 alone.
- Gardenscapes (by Playrix): Gardenscapes had about 21 million global downloads in January 2020 alone.
- Subway Surfers (Sybo Games): The game was downloaded about 21 million times in January 2020 alone.
- Fun Race 3D (Good Job Games): Fun Race 3D had about 19 million global downloads in January 2020.
- Homescapes (Playrix): Homescapes had about 17.7 million downloads in January 2020 alone.
- Candy Crush Saga (by King): Candy Crush Saga has been downloaded over 2.7 billion times worldwide. In January 2020 alone, it had around 15 million downloads globally.
- Roblox (by Roblox): Roblox had around 13 million global downloads in January 2020.
- PUBG Mobile (by Tencent): This game is most popular in China, with the US being a distant second, and Turkey being third). The game has over 600 million downloads worldwide. In January 2020 alone, it had more than 11 million downloads globally.
While we attempted focusing this research on the most popular mobile gaming titles worldwide within the last six months, trusted publications and databases like Similar Web only published monthly data on the most popular games. As a result, we relied on Sensor Tower's list of the most downloaded mobile games worldwide in January 2020. To get the exact number of downloads these games had, we added their iOS and Google Play January 2020 downloads together.
CURRENT TRENDS IN THE GLOBAL MOBILE GAMING INDUSTRY
- Cloud gaming continues to broaden the range of possible gaming experiences as tech companies are now entering this space.
- In 2019, Microsoft and Google introduced their cloud gaming solutions.
- As described by an industry expert, cloud gaming, specifically within the mobile gaming industry, is adding another layer to the global mobile gaming industry.
- While it is unlikely that cloud gaming will "convert a new audience of casual gamers to more traditionally AAA titles," it is creating more accessibility to the standard gaming titles. Cloud solutions is significantly contributing to the value of the rapidly growing mobile gaming industry.
- Battle royale games are already popular among gamers in the US and Europe through Fortnite and PUBG. The trend is rapidly expanding to other regions.
- Battle royale games like Fornite Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Knives Out, and Garena Free Fire are being downloaded by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
- Just 24 hours after PUBG Mobile was released, it skyrocketed to the top spot in over 15 countries.
- The mobile esports phenomenon is unstoppable and is expected to reach greater heights in every corner of the world, especially Asia.
- The year 2019 marketed the beginning of something new in the mobile gaming industry, the transition towards 5G adoption worldwide.
- 5G introduces faster wireless broadband speeds to mobile devices, including smartphones. This latest advancement is powering the mobile gaming ecosystem.
- China is already rapidly rolling out 5G mobile phones services. Developed countries already have or are creating widespread access to 5G.
- Due to its increased bandwidth, 5G is generating more data and fueling a demand for diversity of content.
- Companies like Sony and Google are already developing cloud services in preparation for 5G in mobile gaming.
More Hyper Casual Games
- In 2019, the hyper casual games sub genre - defined as "lightweight games with simple mechanics that offer instant gameplay" - saw explosive growth.
- These games have become popular because they can be quickly made. Due to "belligerent ad-based monetization, the average lifetime value (LTV) of players remains higher than the average cost to acquire them."
- This growth is expected to stabilize as smartphone users are not as susceptible to the aggressive ad campaigns they have.
- However, this does not mean that the hyper casual sector is dying, it is now establishing itself as its own genre, rather than just a sub genre of casual games.
- It used to be that mobile gamers who sought out multiplayer games and hardcore experiences only found them on PC or consoles, this has since changed.
- The increase in the demand for complex gaming genres such as multiplayer online battle arenas, complemented with emerging technology, has pushed hardcore gaming experience to the forefront of mobile.
- The hardcore category is also poised for growth in the future. Worldwide, "mobile gamers who play hardcore titles are more likely to expect their play time to increase, compared to players who favor casual games."
FUTURE TRENDS IN THE GLOBAL MOBILE GAMING INDUSTRY
- The rising adoption of augmented reality games globally is expected to fuel the growth of the mobile gaming market. The market will reportedly grow by almost $50 billion from 2020 to 2024.
- The growing popularity and success of augmented reality games like Sharks in the Park and Pokemon Go is encouraging companies to release new augmented reality mobile games.
- Well-known market players like Sony, Microsoft, and Google are now incorporating augmented reality technology to their gaming systems for a better gaming experience.
Rise of Asia
- Asia's substantial influence in the mobile gaming industry is unmatched. A lot of the most popular gaming titles in 2019 were developed in this continent. Asian publishers are also responsible for over half of the most downloaded games in 2019.
- While Asian companies are not expected to have a monopoly on mobile games, they continue to strike deals and widen their reach in the industry.
- There are lower labor costs in countries like China, which helps them launch games at a faster pace than other markets. As a result, mobile games created by Asian companies are expected to be one of the main growth drivers of the global mobile gaming industry.
- The Chinese mobile gaming market alone is expected to grow by 23.3% in the next few years and add "approximately US$42.3 Billion in terms of addressable opportunity for the picking by aspiring businesses and their astute leaders."
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
- Although still in its infancy, blockchain is the latest technology that is creating a buzz in the global mobile gaming industry.
- Even though blockchain has not fully gained traction in the mobile gaming market, a few games built on blockchain technology are making a lot of money.
- An example is CrypoKitties, this Ethereum-based company enables game players to buy, breed, and trade kittens digitally with Cryptocurrency. Just three months after it launched, its sales reached over $12 million.
- There are several advantages of using blockchain technology to build games. For one, cryptocurrencies could make in-game purchases and sales seamless. Blockchain also offers a secure environment for game developers as blockchain platforms leverage powerful data encryption technologies.
- Gaming companies like Ubisoft are already working on blockchain based games.
- Artificial intelligence is already being used to create games that engage people. Experts predict that this is only the beginning.
- As phones and mobile devices become more capable and strong, the use of artificial intelligence in mobile gaming will continue to ramp up.
- Multinational tech companies are recognizing the potential for artificial intelligence to change the mobile gaming industry in unexpected ways. Electronic Arts (EA) is building a research and development arm to explore new technologies for games, including artificial intelligence.
- In the mobile gaming industry, artificial intelligence can do much more, including automating labor-intensive tasks and generating graphics and characters that allow lean teams to "create vastly more immersive and engaging games than previously possible."
GAAS & Streaming Services
- Games as a Service, or GaaS involves offering games on an ongoing revenue model. It allows users to access a comprehensive collection of games on any mobile device and stream these games.
- The rise of streaming services in the gaming industry is forecast to change the market in significant ways.
- Google, Microsoft, and Nvidia are a few of the companies at the forefront of this trend. These companies are increasing their on-demand game services portfolio.
- Streaming services also make it possible for gamers to share their experience directly with game developers, thus enabling game developers to enhance user experience.
- Mobile gaming has become social engagement, particularly among young people.
- As a result, experts predict the revolution of mobile games with social havens that allow people with the same interests to meet as they enjoy their favorite games.
- This development will reportedly be "enhanced by the fact that more people nowadays like platforms they can [use] connect with others as they do on social media platforms."
THE BURGEONING MOBILE GAMING INDUSTRY: WHY IT HAS TAKEN OVER OVERALL GAMING INDUSTRY
- The fact that most people use mobile phones nowadays has contributed to the rapid growth of the market. There are almost 3 billion smartphone users worldwide. About 50% of all mobile devices worldwide are used to play games.
- Around 62% of smartphone owners install gaming apps on their mobile devices within the first week of purchasing these smartphones.
- As described by Tech Crunch, accessibility is the highest it has ever been as they are little to no barriers to entry in the mobile gaming market.
- The easy access and "affordability of 3G/4G internet globally has also made mobile games more accessible to most of the population."
Support from Everywhere
- The increased investment and acquisition activities within the mobile gaming industry is another factor fueling its growth.
- The first few substantial investments in mobile gaming were from companies that already gained traction and had a significant share of the industry. Tencent, the company behind PUBG Mobile, invested $126 million in Glu Mobile and $90 million in Pocket Gems. Tencent also bought out Supercell and a 40% stake in Epic Games.
- Supercell, the gaming powerhouse behind Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, invested $5 million in Redemption Games. Ubisoft, a popular video game company, "acquired a 70% stake in Green Panda Games."
- Investors outside the gaming industry are also recognizing the potential of mobile games. Pokémon GO has generated over $2 billion in revenue since it launched it 2016. In January 2020 alone, it was downloaded over 3 million times.
- This substantial amount of revenue that mobile gaming companies are attaining is grasping the attention of venture capital firms, private equity firms, and other financial institutions. In May 2018, the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs invested $200 million in Voodoo, a renowned mobile game developer.
Short Attention Span of Millennials
- Gen Zers and millennials - the cohorts with the largest share of gamers - are known for their short attention span.
- These individuals are constantly seeking "low-commitment entertaining to be enjoyed in short bursts of time in or between carrying out other tasks." Mobile games fit these needs.
- Nearly 80% of adults play mobile games while multitasking. About half of adults play these games while in the bathroom.
DEMOGRAPHICS OF MOBILE GAMERS
- Mobile gaming is most popular among 16 to 24 year olds worldwide (84%), closely followed by 25 to 34 year olds (80%), and 35 to 44 year olds (73%).
- In comparison, only 58% of 45 to 54 year olds play mobile games, while 41% of 55 to 64 year olds play mobile games.
- Surprisingly, in the US, the largest portion of mobile gamers are 55 and older.
Types of Games
- Among female gamers, the most popular types of games are Match 3 or three-in-a-row games (69%), family/farm sim (69%), casual puzzle (42%), atmospheric exploration (41%), interactive drama (37%), fantasy (36%), and Japanese RPG (33%).
- The most popular types of games played by male gamers are sports (98%), tactical shooter (96%), racing (94%), first-person shooter (93%), grad strategy (93%), MOBA (90%), turn-based strategy (89%), open world (86%), sci-fi (84%), and action adventure (82%).
- In countries like the US, women are known to account for the most mobile gamers.
- Globally, 73% of men play mobile games compared to 71% of women. Another study mentions that 50% of gamers worldwide are women.
- Mobile gaming is most popular in the Asia Pacific region as 81% of people in this region are mobile gamers.
- About 71% of people residing in the Middle East and Africa are mobile gamers, compared to 68% of people in the Latin American region.
- Only 55% of people in Europe and 51% of people in North America play mobile games.
- Mobile gamers tend to be students. About 85% of students are mobile gamers, compared to 79% of parents with children, and 74% of university educated individuals.
- Income status varies by country. However, the top 25% earners are known to make up the largest share of mobile gamers, closely followed by the mid 50% earners.