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Mobile gaming was once the joke of the real gaming world. Early contenders like Paper Toss, Fruit Ninja, Snake and Brick Breaker were considered simplistic and unworthy by eSports fanatics and professional gamers. However, mobile phone technology has finally caught up with gaming consoles, and now the future of gaming is in the palm of your hand.
This past Black Friday brought in $55.8 million in mobile game spending between the Apple App and Google Play stores. The most popular games were Clash of the Clans and Clash Royale by Supercell. These were followed closely by Roblox, Candy Crush Saga and Fortnite.
According to research from Newzoo, for 2019, mobile gaming is expected to grow by another 25 percent and beat out all other gaming platforms with a total spend of about $70 billion. Historically, mobile games couldn’t compete with the quality of a console or PC games, but now with retina screens, super fast processors, and built-in AR and VR capabilities, the playing field is leveled.
The New eSports Arena
eSports used to be reserved for PC and gaming console competitions only. Newly robust hardware and sophisticated mobile games are changing all that. Finland’s Supercell launched one of the first eSports mobile leagues this fall with Clash Royale. The game is a multiplayer spin-off of their award-winning Clash of Clans. In it, players attempt to destroy the opponent’s towers within a medieval-themed genre combined with a cartoon-like style.
eSports is big money. Players of Clash Royale are battling for a $1 million prize purse from investors all over Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Another eSports giant, Super Evil Megacorp, launched a league of their own in September with the game Vainglory. Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals, was quoted as saying “We firmly believe that mobile is the future of competitive gaming.”
One of the biggest reasons for the migration to mobile is accessibility. According to The Pew Research Center, 94 percent of adults age 18-29 own a smartphone. Razr and ASUS have taken notice and developed special “gamer phones” with enhanced specifications to handle the high-end graphics and speed demands of mobile games. Apps like Steam Link that extend your gaming experience by connecting your controller with your phone has helped advance the mobile gaming movement even more.
Show Me the Money!
Nothing is more frustrating than downloading a fast, fun game on your phone, getting hooked, and then advancing a few levels only to find yourself suddenly stuck and you cannot move any further without an in-app purchase. This business model is how mobile app companies are making millions. Instead of charging a fee up front, they entice you in the door, get you addicted, and then you have to purchase coins, weapons, or other objects to move ahead in the game.
Leaders in the mobile gaming industry dream of success while parroting those who came before them. Eight years ago Angry Birds paved the way with a seemingly silly $2 game which is now used by billions of players all over the world and has evolved to the big screen in a blockbuster movie. Every app developer wants to mimic that success story.
Gaming moguls are learning that even charging 99 cents for a game is prohibitive. Gamers respond much better to a free-to-play model with in-app-purchases to advance levels. That is where the big money is. However, there are some rare success stories like The Room and Monument Valley where users paid up front for the game. These days that is not common, and unestablished developers can’t afford any missteps when competing with the likes of Supercell and Immortals.
Beat the Bots
Cyber security is more of an issue with mobile devices than PCs or gaming systems. Mobile devices are small and can easily be stolen. Owners frequently connect them to unsecured WiFi networks, and mobile phones are always connected to the internet via cell service. Additionally, some mobile device operating systems are more vulnerable than others.
Mobile gaming often means connecting you to other players and, depending on the built-in security features of the app, you could be vulnerable to an attack or invasion from a connected player. Mobile apps pose a much higher risk of hacking than systems like Xbox or PlayStation. Some apps are released before they are ready, to get them to market, but developers are sacrificing user security for profit.
Another cyber security risk is games like Fortnight that offer cosmetic DLC and in-game currency. Fake sites have been offering the in-game currency V-bucks where you can purchase this DLC inside the Fortnite game. However, these offer are scams aimed at getting the user to click a link that installs malicious malware onto their device and steals other information. Five thousand people fell victim to this particular scam.
The Future is Mobile
When looking at the transformation of the gaming world, it is easy to see where the future of everything is headed: mobile devices. If you own a business, you can’t afford to ignore this technology. Retail establishments, especially, have begun to embrace mobile apps that help their shoppers find goods, compare prices and even pay for them at the register.
Apps like Apple Pay and Square allow mobile device owners to hold their phone or wearable device up to the payment kiosk and pay instantly from their account. Credit cards are now all moving to the chip-reader style that offers better security and seamless transactions. More people are paying with a mobile wallet than ever before.
Paying with cash is but a faint memory for most consumers. The future is in high-tech solutions and further use of wearables. The mobile wallet industry is worth $200+ billion. Mobile technology is not going away; in fact, it is one of the leading growth industries all over the world and not just in gaming.
The gaming industry is gearing up for a massive mobile expansion, and with them, other businesses are finding ways to get on board and exploit this avenue for opportunity, efficiency and profit.