IN THE NEWS: Mobile Platform Dominating Gaming Industry

Credit: King
Newly released Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! has received more than 27 million downloads since its release.

I don’t spend much time discussing mobile gaming because I don’t have enough experience with the platform to provide informed opinions on it. But I am aware of its humongous presence in the gaming industry. There are many gamers today that have never touched a gaming console, a PC, or a MAC. Yet those same gamers have a multitude of games downloaded into their phones or mobile devices that they play regularly. And, according to the statistics, they spend just as much money as console and PC gamers combined.

While gaming publications and news sites primarily report on the latest with the PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles, companies that specialize in mobile gaming such as King are raking in billions of dollars a year. According to Statista, King had an operating budget of more than $800 million and reported a revenue of more than $2 billion for 2020. King is the company behind mobile hits such as Candy Crush Saga and Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!. Released on March 25th, the new Crash Bandicoot game had 9 million downloads on its first day and is now fast approaching 30 million.

Credit: Newzoo
Mobile gaming represents the biggest market in gaming.

The above graphic was really eye-opening to me when I discovered it on the Newzoo website. This shows that mobile gaming is responsible for half of the gaming market globally. It makes sense. Much of the public is tied to its cellphone throughout each day. People use their phones to make calls, text, check and send emails, take photos, search the internet, watch videos, play games, etc. It’s the most accessible device a person possesses. Through that mobile device, a person can be reached quicker and more successfully than ever before.

As I studied these numbers, I was able to more clearly see part of the reason why the Nintendo Switch has been so successful. Handheld gaming has become the most popular form of gaming. Nintendo has invested in that area throughout its history from all its iterations of the GameBoy to its multiple versions of the DS to the present Switch. And it has paid off for Nintendo in a major way. It’s a shame that Sony didn’t make the PSP and PlayStation Vita more of priority over the years. The handheld market was big enough for those platforms to do better than they did. And it looks like companies that focus on mobile gaming have the potential for bigger payoffs.

Credit: Activision
Bringing Call of Duty as a free-to-play title to mobile devices has paid off in a big way for Activision.

What is the key to the success of mobile gaming? It is the platform with probably the most free-to-play titles that typically contain a comprehensive microtransaction system. Right now, this is the most lucrative system in gaming. It is the method Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile can credit for the success that both brands have enjoyed. Many gaming companies are going mobile as a result of the earning potential. Pokemon Go has been a beast on the mobile platform. Nintendo’s foray into the mobile world with Mario Kart Tour and Super Mario Run has proven successful. This method of doing business is turning gaming companies into corporate juggernauts.

While this strategy has drawn the ire of many gamers, from a psychological standpoint, I believe it is brilliant. There are a lot of gamers that are beyond fed up with microtransactions and in-game stores. This is very understandable. But the truth is that the player can choose not to purchase the advertised items or even the games associated with them. What I find fascinating is how players can potentially spend more money on a game that is initially offered for free. Having a $59.99 price will cause certain gamers to immediately think about affordability, but yet those same gamers aren’t considering how their smaller in-game purchases eventually surpass that original price. So instead of spending $60, the person has spent more than $200 when all is said and done.

I currently play mobile games through the BlueStacks android emulator that you can download onto your PC for free. When it comes to gaming, I’m more old school in that I like to play games on my television or monitor. Using a phone or tablet for gaming has always felt weird to me. But I will definitely be keeping my eye on the mobile market and indulge myself a little more with mobile gaming.


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