2015: How the Mobile Gaming Industry is Shaping Up
The mobile gaming market is rife with opportunities for indie developers in particular, given the barrier to entry which is practically non-existent today. Based on what we know so far, let’s take some educated guesses so as to how trends are going to shape up the mobile gaming market this year and beyond.
Monumental Growth Expected
It’s safe to say this is pretty much a no-brainer. Analysts studying the market may not agree on the exact numbers, but this is something we can all cast our vote on: mobile gaming is spreading its wings and taking to the stratosphere.
Mobile gaming has exceeded even traditional PC and console games in terms of growth and revenue which is expected to edge ahead by another 20%, at the end of 2015. What’s driving all this growth? Well, let’s see:
- People love using tablets and smartphones, old or young, everyone has one in some shape or form. The iPad’s sales may have leveled off for now, but Apple put more iPads in consumers’ hands in just one quarter than the total number of say, PS4 consoles sold in all of 2014.
- Android tablets are starting to enjoy a larger share of the market, with more powerful variants being sold at lower prices – it’s only evitable they’re going to be a popular platform for mobile gaming.
- Smartphones are increasingly becoming more powerful and continue to gain popularity all around the globe. It is interesting to observe how the western markets are acting as more of a ‘replacement smartphone market’ rather than a new user market; a lot of the credit goes to India and China, where mobile growth is phenomenal.
- 2014 saw a whopping 1.2 billion smartphones being sold worldwide, and that really is an impressive number for a mobile device that also plays great games.
Revenue from the top mobile games today is going through the roof and there are no signs of any slowdowns. At the rate things are moving forward, it is estimated that Boom Beach developer Supercell might hit close to $2 billion this year, most of which will likely come from Clash of Clans. That’s actually comparable to the leading money-making games on any platform.
Chances are we’re going to be see more mobile games this year generating close to $5 million a day.
PC and Console Games Go Mobile
With mobile games increasingly becoming more powerful and starting to almost resemble Xbox 360/PS3-era games, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be seeing PC and console quality gaming on mobile, by the numbers.
Major console developers have complemented their games by releasing a mobile exclusive version to further extend the experience. In some cases we’ve even seen a mobile-exclusive version.
FIFA Ultimate Team is one such example, where EA took a wildly popular franchise and introduced it on mobile, effectively leveraging PC sales even more. EA also made a mobile exclusive version of the rave console hit Dead Space, which won the “Best Mobile Game of the Year” award in 2011.
Don’t keep your fingers crossed for too long because chances are we’ll be seeing a lot more mobile games that closely resemble their PC and console counterparts. Among the first ones to take this bold step was Skylanders: Trap Team, which has also turned quite a few heads by giving away a Bluetooth-powered console-like controller included in the Tablet starter pack. You get all this, wait for it… at the same price as the console version!
Analyst Michael Patcher describes this move by Activision as “brilliant”. You now have a tablet that acts as a game console as far as Skylander players go, not to mention freeing up “hog time” on the living room TV screen.
Activision isn’t the only one though; Blizzard has enjoyed great success with it digital card game, Hearthstone, which (surprise surprise) plays the same way on a tablet as it does on PC. Hardcore PC-minded gamers are now opening up to other possibilities and starting to see tablets as a highly useful and inexpensive on-the-go gaming device, particularly when stacked up against a laptop.
Want more examples? Of course you do! World of Tanks developer Wargaming has done an exceptional job of introducing the tablet version, World of Tanks Blitz, appeasing tablet gamers with the essence of PC gameplay mechanics. You can expect to see a lot more PC and console titles gracing the mobile market this year.
Premium is Here to Stay
When mobile was relatively new, some games used to be sold for as much as $10 or higher, though as the market got more crowded, prices gradually started to deflate. Many developers would introduce a free version of the game to coax gamers into buying the premium or deluxe version in order to enjoy the full suite of gameplay features.
Thanks to the idea of in-app purchases, free-to-play games became a rave hit, dominating most of the mobile gaming market today.
However, many developers claim F2P games are not the best way of reeling in revenues. Indie developers have largely enjoyed great returns with paid games, prime example – Monument Valley. Games that are heavily story driven will most likely require the gamer to make a small up-front payment.
The trend of this upfront cost will be carried forward this year, as more publishers start experimenting with different monetization schemes. F2P games, if marketed right, can be great revenue generators, but you can’t rely on them solely if you wish to stay in the market. There are going to be several paths developers will be exploring in order to reach into gamers’ wallets: sponsorships, advertising, subscriptions and other forms of monetization will be the norm.
2015 a Promising Year Ahead
Ever wonder why a relatively humble developer like Supercell generates more revenue through a couple mobile games compared to EA’s several hundred? It’s all about creativity – around it revolves nearly every aspect of the business including marketing, community and monetization.
This is indeed a golden age for mobile gaming and the gold’s going to only the most creative of developers.
We’d love to hear what you foresee as being “hot” in the world of mobile gaming this year. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. You can also get in touch with our dev team to discuss your next mobile gaming projects.