It has been obvious for a few years now that mobile gaming is the branch of the massive global gaming industry that rules – it has the biggest user base, the biggest reach, it covers the most demographics, and it generates the highest revenues. And it does so in an incredibly fragmented hardware and software environment, from the cheapest handsets running unsupported versions of Android to flagship handsets with the latest hardware and operating system. This is perhaps because of the incredible variety of games running on mobile. There’s literally something for everyone, from a bored middle-aged housewife to the old lady well beyond her retirement age – even she will play a few rounds of Words with Friends from time to time (and watch a few ads in the process). And when it comes to hardware, it’s once again the variety. You don’t need the best gaming phones for casino games – they will run great on an entry-level handset or one that’s half a decade old. We all knew that mobile gaming is huge… but it’s still amazing how bit it has grown since the release of Snake on Nokia.
According to a recent report by App Annie, nearly 23 billion apps were downloaded from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store in the third quarter of this year alone, growing by 10% compared to the same time period in 2018. Close to 40% of all downloads (about 30% on iOS and 40% on Android) were games, once again growing compared to the previous quarter.
In the last quarter, Android has proven its supremacy when it comes to downloads – Android users downloaded 175% more apps than iOS users.
Although Android sees the highest number of downloads, iOS still leads when it comes to revenues, contributing more to the profitability of mobile gaming on a global scale. According to Newzoo, the total revenue generated by the mobile gaming industry this year will reach $68.5 billion, or about 45% of the global gaming industry’s revenues, maintaining its position as the most lucrative branch of the business. Smartphone and tablet games continue their meteoric rise, growing by 10% by the end of the year. By comparison, console gaming will generate around $45 billion in revenues, and PC games, around $35 billion.
The biggest revenues are (and will continue to be) generated by the Asia-Pacific region, led by China despite its restrictive game licensing process, followed by North America, Europe, and Latin America.
For a Hollywood movie, passing the billion-dollar threshold during its theatrical run is a big achievement – and so is for mobile games. And more than a dozen of them have done so. Among the most recent entries in the billion-dollar club, we find titles like Tencent’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic’s Fortnite, two “battle royale” games that were both released in 2018. They join the ranks of such high-profile (and very lucrative) games like 2014’s Lineage M, 2016’s Clash Royale, and Pokémon: GO. And, of course, Candy Crush, one of the most widely played and most profitable games in the history of smartphones.
The number of smartphone users keeps growing around the world year after year – and this means more players who will download anything between 2048 and Call of Duty Mobile, growing their user base and revenues further.