As sales of consoles stall, the video game industry has identified the mobile gaming market as an area of growth in the industry, driven in part by advances in smartphone technology.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer identified the lucrative mobile gaming sector as an underexploited area of development at the WSJ Tech Live conference, explaining that access to mobile gamers is imperative for the success of gaming companies. The comments come amid the revelation that Activision Blizzard, the company behind Call of Duty and the subject of a proposed takeover by Microsoft, now generates more revenue from its selection of mobile games than the combined income derived from computers and consoles.
The success of Call of Duty: Mobile has highlighted the possibilities of mobile gaming, with the game recording more than 100 million downloads on iOS and Android globally within the first two months of its release in 2019. Other popular mobile games include the battle royale video game PUBG Mobile and Legends of Runeterra.
An untapped market
As far as Spencer is concerned, the acquisition of Activision Blizzard represents the perfect opportunity to steal a march on its rivals with revenue rising from mobile gaming. He presented compelling evidence of the growth potential of mobile video games and the advantage it holds over games consoles: “When you think about 3 billion people playing video games, there’s only about 200 million households on console.”
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Capitalizing on the improvements in smartphone technology
Clearly, the boom in the popularity of mobile gaming is connected to the huge improvements in smartphone technology which have seen screen size, processors, graphics, and sound taken to a whole new level. Game developers have responded to these technological advances by designing games which take full advantage of the new possibilities. Alongside Call of Duty: Mobile, developers have designed innovative mobile game titles such as NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition, the mobile version of the popular basketball video game franchise, which is available on Apple Arcade. Dennis Yeh, Gaming Insights Lead at Sensor Tower, highlighted the link between smartphones with greater and more powerful capabilities and the increasing sophistication of mobile games.
The focus on mobile gaming comes as the technology powering smartphones continues to offer players improved gaming experiences and this phenomenon has also been observed in another area of the entertainment industry. In the iGaming sector, Canadian slot game developers, such as NetEnt, Bluberi Gaming Canada Inc. and Zartek, have also been able to capitalize on the improvements in technology to offer games featuring the best software for online casinos in Canada. This has resulted in animated slot games such as Haunted House and immersive live dealer casino games such as roulette and blackjack.
The meteoric rise of global smartphone ownership
Smartphone ownership continues to grow apace, with Apple and Samsung dominating the market. In 2016, there were over 3.6 billion smartphone owners around the world, in 2021 the total rose to over 6.2 billion. It is predicted that global smartphone ownership will rise to over 7.6 billion by 2027. The rapid expansion of 5G coverage for smartphones in North America is likely to be followed by increased coverage of the fifth-generation mobile network around the world.
A further advantage of mobile gaming is that many games are free to play and dispense with the need to purchase expensive consoles, opening up the market to gamers around the world. Jeff Karp, Senior Vice President of Mobile Games at Electronic Arts, hailed the decision of the US company to acquire mobile studios such as Playdemic, a move which has increased the accessibility of the video game brand.
With revenue from mobile gaming predicted to exceed $100 billion by 2023, it is no surprise to witness smartphone video games beginning to dominate the video game industry. As a consequence, further acquisitions of mobile game developers are likely in the future.