Just like in many other industries and sectors, it is fair to say that trends come and go in the world of gaming.
However, every now and then specific concepts have the sticking power to hang around and really have a major influence on the future of the sector. If the past few years are anything to go by, mobile certainly looks set to be a technology that has that level of impact.
— Nintendo of Europe (@NintendoEurope) September 23, 2017
When we were all playing Snake on our Nokia handsets, did we ever think for one second that smartphones would become one of the key ways that many of us enjoy high-quality gaming experiences? Mobile gaming has grown at an impressive rate in recent years, with research released by Activision Blizzard Media and Newzoo last year suggesting that 2.4 billion people globally would play titles on a phone or tablet in 2019.
It is not just one specific form of gaming that is thriving on mobile either, as a range of different genres have found a home on handheld systems. Fans of strategy titles for instance have been able to enjoy the likes of sandbox tower defense game Mindustry or Tropico, where gamers become the leader of a Caribbean island and have to help it towards a brighter future. In addition, many puzzle games have been successful, like Brain it On – a title which features a host of physics teasers designed to test even the sharpest minds. Casino gaming enthusiasts are also catered for in the mobile space, with online casinos offering a range of titles on handheld devices including live casino experiences where games such as blackjack and roulette are hosted by a real-life dealer via a video link. Furthermore, games like The Walking Dead: Our World have also showcased the potential that augmented reality can offer in mobile titles.
The success of such games and services has certainly seemed to make many major names in the world of gaming sit up and take notice of what is happening with mobile, with a number looking at the ways that they could get involved in the area. Now, new figures have put a spotlight on how well two leading brands usually linked with consoles have fared in the mobile space.
Major financial success
Nintendo has enjoyed huge success through the decades with its console systems and the enduring popularity of its famous characters including Mario. However, the company have been open to embracing mobile in recent years, with their famous Italian plumber making an appearance in titles including Mario Kart Tour, Super Mario Run and Dr Mario World.
At the end of last month, research released by Sensor Tower estimated that Nintendo’s range of mobile games have now generated more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue from player spending on both the App Store and Google Play. Fire Emblem Heroes is thought to account for more than 60 per cent of that total, with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Dragalia Lost following behind. While Super Mario Run contributed a relatively low share of just seven per cent, it remains Nintendo’s most downloaded title. Sensor Tower added that it is believed that the company’s range of mobile games had generated more than 450 downloads globally.
Activision Blizzard is another name more commonly associated with console and PC games but, as Gamespot reports, the company’s move into mobile has also been a huge success. In a recent earnings report, it was revealed that the organization made $633 million from mobile and related revenue in the quarter up to December 31st – a figure which equated to around a third of its total net revenues. One development which is sure to have had an impact is Call of Duty Mobile, which was launched at the start of October last year and is thought to have achieved a huge number of downloads globally.
Bright future ahead
The figures related to Nintendo and Activision Blizzard are undoubtedly fascinating and provide clear evidence of how mobile has grown to become big business in recent years. Intriguingly, more recent research has also suggested that the future is looking bright for the area too.
App Annie’s recent State of Mobile 2020 report put a spotlight on how smartphones and tablets now play a major role in our lives, with it revealing that consumers used such devices on average for around three hours and 40 minutes in 2019 – 35 per cent more than two years earlier. In addition, it also found that the overall spend on mobile games is projected to reach $100 billion this year.
That certainly seems possible when you consider the continued popularity of many mobile games and the fact that more big names are expected to enter the domain in the next few months too. Recent reports suggested that Activision may be looking to bring Crash Bandicoot to mobile, while towards the end of last year Riot Games revealed that the League of Legends franchise will head to mobile and console for the first time in Wild Rift.
An unstoppable rise
All of the above highlights that mobile has clearly become a dominant force in gaming in recent years and that its unstoppable rise looks set to continue across the months ahead.
Considering the success that Activision and Nintendo have had, it will be intriguing to see if other developers embrace mobile and which new titles prove to be a major success going forward.