The Business of Mobile Gaming
Mobile gaming is the most popular form of gaming in the world, overtaking both console and PC gaming. One of the reasons for mobile gaming’s popularity is accessibility—nearly everyone has a smartphone, which is capable of playing games.
Beyond the ubiquity of smartphones, mobile games have turned everyone into a gamer (whether they’re willing to admit it or not). Gone are outdated notions of gamers being young men in their parent’s basement playing console games until early hours of the morning — now we see gamers everywhere we go. Whether it’s a child playing a match 3 game at a table, a man playing a word game while he waits for his plane to take off, or a woman in line for coffee and playing a racing game — mobile gamers are playing everywhere they go. With the launch of the iPhone in 2007, we’ve seen mobile gaming not only become the most popular way we play, it has launched several games that have become wildly popular, and in some instances have resulted in major cultural moments outside of gaming like the Angry Birdsmovies.
With all this information, it’s a good time to be a mobile game developer. If you have an idea for a game, there is likely a gamer out there who will love it, whether you’re developing a hyper-casual game or a more strategic, hardcore game. We’re breaking down the current status of the mobile gaming market, breaking down the different types of game devs that we get the opportunity to work with, and making some predictions about new tech that can take mobile games in the future.
State of Affairs: Mobile Gaming
Now that we’ve established that everyone is a mobile gamer, it’s time to acknowledge the fact that they also really love to play games. In fact, a recent study found that 51 percent of gamers worldwide would rather play their games than watch TV or watch something via streaming.
Some gamers would be used to this especially if they’re playing hardcore or mid-core games. Hardcore games naturally have a pull for players — often taken them deep into different worlds and challenges that require a more lengthy time investment to really get the most out of the gaming experience. Mid-core games offer more depth than casual games and often require strategy similar to that of a hardcore game, but in a slightly more distilled version. These games also often have appeal to a more broad audience than hardcore games. Casual games had largely been seen as games with the widest appeal. These are simpler in both the game mechanics and rules for gameplay, and can be picked up and played by almost anyone.
Then in 2017 we began to see the rise of a new type of game: Hyper-casual games. And no other genre is more popular on mobile right now — in 2019, 78 percent of the most downloaded new mobile games fall into the hyper-casual category, which is a 10 percent increase from 2018.
These light, snackable games are characterized by the ease with which players can hop in and out of a session — these short bursts of gameplay can give players the break they need when waiting for a coffee, on their commute, or while waiting out a commercial break. This type of gaming could only be born in the time of the smartphone as millions of people have their cell phones at their disposal — but then developers were faced with a new challenge. While there was a change for in-app purchases to be a monetization strategy, many hyper-casual game developers rely on advertising to monetize their mobile games. This means they need to ensure the quality of their game and gameplay needs to be top-notch to maintain a great user experience while still maximizing how often players are encountering ads.
No matter what kind of player you are, there is a mobile game out there for you.
State of Affairs: Mobile Ad Formats
For marketers, mobile is the best place to engage with the largest audience of players. This has resulted in the golden age of advertising, thanks to the myriad of mobile ad formats at marketers’ disposal. While it might be a little counter-intuitive, this is a great place for mobile game developers to get cozy with competitors. By cross-promoting your game with your competitors, you have the opportunity to increase installs and expand your user base. Here are some of the top-performing ad formats right now:
- Playable ads: These interactive ads give potential players the opportunity to interact with gameplay. This is a great way to give them a taste of the game and to experience the game before they download.
- Video ads: Video ads keep players engaged by sharing an immersive experience, and rewarded video can give players the chance to watch a video in exchange for an in-game reward.
- Display ads: These high-quality visuals are static or animated, and can come in a variety of formats: Banner, native, or interstitial.
State of Affairs: Mobile Game Developers
One of the most practical advantages of becoming a mobile game developer is the low barrier to entry into the space. No matter where you are in the world, if you have an interest and ambition to pursue a mobile game, the likelihood of you being able to access tools that will help jumpstart your career in mobile gaming are quite high.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of both free and paid online tools that allow beginners and experienced developers hone their skills. There are several YouTube series like Android Game Development from Simplified Coding that give viewers a free overview of kicking off a career in mobile game development, and companies offer robust platforms to help developers build and launch their games faster.
More and more, we’re seeing mobile game developers pop up in all corners of the world, and one of the most up-and-coming groups is the indie game developer. This is often someone working alone, and who may be pursuing gaming as a side project, or in hopes that it will help supplement their existing income to help support their family. The drive to create not only makes them passionate and ambitious about creating their own game, but also makes them vital members of the online communities of other gamers looking to get feedback on their own games.
Some would argue that we’re just at the beginning of what mobile games are capable of — with new technologies debuting all the time, we could potentially see developers taking advantage of current cutting-edge technologies like AI to create completely custom games or in-game characters that evolve.
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