The recent growth of mobile gaming is no surprise in the gaming world. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, gaming became a source of connection and stimulation for many stuck inside. According to research by Mintel, the coronavirus pandemic drove revenues up for gaming companies by 35% in 2020. And for those new to the industry without the right consoles or programs to get started on PC, mobile phones presented a way into gaming for millions.
Mobile gamers now make up a huge segment of overall gaming numbers, with 2.65 billion of the world’s 3.24 billion gamers playing on mobile. And with popularity comes competition.
The increasing number of mobile gamers has given rise to a whole new realm in the world of esports too—leagues and competitions among mobile gamers are only gaining more and more traction in the digital world. Plus, considering that mobile gaming is the top-grossing gaming segment worldwide as of 2021, it’s clear that mobile gaming and esports offer a key opportunity for both large and small players in the industry.
We’re going to look at the growth of mobile esports in 2022, how they’ve impacted global mobile gaming trends, and what this means for developers moving forward.
Why Are Mobile Esports so Popular?
To understand why mobile esports are so popular, we have to first acknowledge the growth of mobile gaming in general. Where gaming was originally seen as an activity only possible on a console or PC thanks to hefty download sizes and setup requirements, the introduction of the smartphone changed everything.
The huge technological advancements made in the last few years mean that the same cell phones we use to make calls and send text messages now contain the power of a PC or laptop, making smartphones the perfect gaming solution. Portable, powerful, and ultra-connected, smartphones make it easy to see the trajectory of the ever-growing popularity of mobile gaming and mobile esports. This method of gaming means you can game anytime, anywhere—an irresistible combination for today’s generation of gamers.
Esports mobile games bring together the best of the best when it comes to gamers, who compete in different tournaments, competitions, and leagues for anything from cash prizes to bragging rights. For gamers, the communities that have been created both in-game and online have driven the popularity of mobile esports. And for developers, esports leagues and competitions present a very real and lucrative opportunity for growth and revenue.
Asia: the Epicenter of Mobile Gaming Trends and Esports' Mobile Popularity
Mobile gaming is synonymous with the Global South in general and Southeast Asia in particular. Interestingly, when it comes to mobile gamers, women are leading the charge in these regions too. While mobile esports remains a relatively untapped market in the US and European countries, it has a well-established presence in other territories. And it’s easy to see why—out of the 2.65 billion mobile gamers worldwide, 1.29 billion come from Asia alone.
Games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Call of Duty (COD) have huge followings across Asia and healthy esports leagues and competitions to go with them. In fact, some leagues like PUBG mobile esports games and competitions were so popular in regions of South Asia that they were banned by governments there back in 2020 due to security concerns and privacy breaches.
The Top Mobile Esports Games
Alongside the popularity of shooter and combat games, there are other popular mobile esports games that generate considerable revenue year on year. Let’s look at some of them.
Call of Duty: Mobile
The classic first-person shooter game is extremely popular on mobile, with COD mobile esports events like the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship bringing in thousands of players each year.
PUBG mobile esports events are hugely popular in regions like Asia and Latin America, where multiplayer teams can pick up large cash prizes.
A battle royale game with an enormous following online, Fortnite is up there with the most popular video games of all time. Its mobile offering is impressive, with esports mobile tournaments that garner a lot of attention, as few and far between as they are.
An ultra-popular hit from Supercell, Clash Royale League’s World Finals and preceding eight tournaments attract gamers from all over the world.
Based on the cult game World of Warcraft, Hearthstone is a card-based mobile game that enables players to play solo or against others in their efforts to build their deck. Players compete against each other in global and regional tournaments.
Garena Free Fire is loved around the world, and while there are only professional competitions in Malaysia and India currently, they’re set to spread as mobile esports get more popular.
What the Growth of Mobile Esports Means for Developers
Like any of the other mobile gaming trends, mobile esports is a key area to keep an eye on for developers. While classic mobile games like COD do have a loyal (and growing) following, it makes the market anything but saturated. After all, that’s the beauty of the gaming industry—games from small indie developers can find as much success as those from industry giants because the players have the power to determine which games strike gold and which ones fade into the background.
It’s likely we’ll see mobile esports continue to find success in leading regions like Asia and Latin America, as well as take hold in other areas where they’re still performing well such as Europe and the US. It’s up to developers to ensure that they’re pouring as much effort into their mobile offerings as other game formats, if not slightly more. If games have a hope of making it to the esports realm, they need to have dedicated, large fan bases and the potential to become globally known titles. And for this to happen, games need to be of a certain caliber.
High-quality, fully localized games paired with well thought-out marketing strategies will be a necessary and winning combination for developers who want to establish a mobile esports tournament as a part of their portfolio.
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At TransPerfect Gaming Solutions (TGS), we offer a range of services to help you optimize your games for success. Whether it’s mobile player testing or community management, we can help you put your best game forward and pave the way for your game to make it to esports leagues and tournaments.
Get started today by getting in touch with the team here at TGS, and let us level up your games.