Last year brought unimaginable revenue to the games industry, growing 3% to $120.1 billion. For the first time in history, esports topped over $1 billion in 2019, and mobile esports has transitioned into one of the fastest-growing sectors of gaming.
Advancements in cellular technology make production costs for mid-low-tier companies less expensive. Therefore, emerging markets, such as those in India, are experiencing immense growth. Smartphone manufacturers and app developers shift their focus towards younger markets, as revenue growth subsides in mature markets.
There is a spectrum of phone quality in developing countries. Developers are conscious of creating applications that are accessible to users on both sides of the spec scale. Their efforts resulted in the introduction of “lite apps.” These less intensive mobile apps have acted as a catalyst for growth in both mobile gaming and esports.
A report by IronSource states that half of mobile app users play games, making mobile games as popular as Apple Music and Spotify. The level of accessibility, affordability, and quality found in game apps has impacted the market significantly. Jason Ng, vice president of strategic partnerships at digital entertainment platform Garena, told TechAsia, “It was important that game developers brought games suitable for esports to mobile, which expanded the addressable audience significantly.”
The growth of mobile esports can be seen in some of Garena’s games. According to Esports Charts, their Free Fire World Series 2019 finals in Brazil garnered a high of 2 million simultaneous viewers with a total of 130 million online views. The tournament’s viewership shattered records for mobile esports tournaments.
PUBG Mobile is one of the most popular titles for gamers and illustrates the growth of mobile esports. The PUBG Mobile Club Open final in 2019 had a total of 532 million views, 11 times more than the year before. The tournament’s prize pool totaled more than $2 million and had a peak viewership of around 600,000.
Call of Duty: Mobile only released a few months ago and is growing into one of the most sought after games on the market. Since its release it’s been downloaded more than 170 million times. While the game’s esports scene is in its infancy, the community-hosted tournaments suggest fans are looking forward to the esport. In fact, Garena recently hosted a tournament, The Clan Invasion. Additionally, Call of Duty: Mobile Mission One held in Thailand by Garena featured a $6,600 prize pool.
With mobile gaming growing in popularity, developing peripherals for serious gamers is an emerging industry. Bluetooth controllers for phones are a significant trend. Companies design phone peripherals to be just as ergonomically useful as devices for PC and console. Highly acclaimed peripheral manufacturers Razer and SteelSeries raised the bar in phone gaming by releasing a line of accessories. Additionally, Apple integrated PS4 and Xbox controller capability to its devices.
As app developers continue to enhance the gaming experience, the mobile esports audience will continue to grow. Newzoo estimates growth in phone gaming will continue to surpass growth seen in both console and PC markets. In 2020, mobile gaming is supposed to comprise 57% of the global gaming market.