For software developers in the gaming industry, mobile platforms have created new opportunities to reach a wider audience through apps tailored for gaming on the go. While mobile devices will probably never fully replace full-fledged console and PC gaming, smartphone ownership and its growing 5G connectivity have enabled immersive experiences once limited to high-end devices. Developers are adapting popular franchises to mobile devices, developing new IPs, and proving that games can be enjoyed and connected wherever you go.
The rise of smartphones and tablets has opened up new avenues for gaming, revolutionising the way people play and access games. Mobile gaming apps have gained immense popularity due to their convenience, portability, and accessibility. Mobile games contribute to the majority of consumer spending on mobile devices, with games accounting for 61 percent of revenue generation on iOS and 77 percent on Google Play.
Even though mobile games still lag behind console and PC releases in scope and development costs, mobile is way ahead in revenue generation. It surpassed PC and console sales in 2018 and was responsible for 51 percent of all revenue, having generated £70.4 billion in 2021 across both platforms (iOS was responsible for £40.9 billion while Google Play generated £29.2 billion). Mobile gaming generates over 60% of total digital game revenue, and half the world's population now plays games on smartphones and tablets. Chinese gamers spent the most on mobile games in 2021, accounting for 34% of total consumer spending, which reached £76.8 billion, a 12.7% increase from the previous year. RPGs are the top-grossing game category, followed by strategy and puzzles, making up the top three.
Cross-Platform Play: Users can game across mobile, console, and PC with shared profiles, game stats, and achievements. Popular multiplayer games are the favourites here, with the player base growing dramatically as barriers between platforms fall. However, technical or interoperable challenges remain to ensure a consistent experience across devices.
AR/VR: As devices become more powerful and 5G reduces latency, AR and VR games will usher in new genres and, with them, deeper immersion on mobile devices. Although still relatively new, the combined AR/VR gaming market is expected to surpass $28.9 billion by 2028, according to Vantage Market research. The most compelling examples include Pokémon Go-style AR adventures and simple VR experiences played with headsets such as Google Cardboard.
Hyper-Casual Games: Minimal, instantly accessible games made to fill your free time with fun. Puzzles, riddles, simulators, and arcade-style options that can be played in under 2 minutes were hugely popular due to their simplicity. Development is often rapid, but competition is fierce. Success depends on gameplay that delights, inspires, and even relaxes players by understanding everyday life.
Indie Titles - Smaller studios see mobile as a more accessible platform for developing and publishing original games. In the indie space, quirky and creative options thrive with a loyal fan base. And while big companies dominate the top charts, indie games garner significant downloads by risking concepts that big players may shy away from in favour of proven winners. But without strong marketing, discoverability remains a challenge.
Mobile gaming apps are experiencing significant monetisation opportunities through various business models. Many games are offered for free, but developers make use of in-app purchases, subscriptions, and advertising to generate revenue. These monetisation strategies allow gamers to enjoy games with no upfront costs while providing a sustainable revenue stream for developers. Software developers play a key role in finding the balance between user experience and monetisation. By implementing ethical and player-friendly monetisation methods, developers can maintain user trust and engagement. They create compelling in-app purchase options, offer value-added content, and obscure ads. By prioritising user satisfaction, developers can foster a positive gaming environment and drive long-term success.
Mobile gaming apps are transforming the gaming landscape, offering unprecedented accessibility, diverse gaming experiences, and social interaction. Software developers and development companies alike have helped shape this industry by pushing the boundaries of technology and creating immersive games that captivate audiences. The impact of mobile gaming goes beyond entertainment to reach a wider audience and bring new monetisation opportunities. In the years ahead, 5G and device power will further enhance the experiences and genres possible in the palms of our hands.