We’re only a few months into 2019, and it’s clear that once again, mobile gaming will be one of the most dominant and trend-driven sectors in the video gaming industry this year. We’ve previously discussed mobile gaming’s extraordinary exponential growth in a recent post, but to recap:
- Mobile game apps accounted for 74 percent of consumer spending in multi-platform app stores in 2018.
- Mobile gaming pulled in 51 percent ($70.3 billion USD) of the total revenue generated by the global gaming market in 2018.
- According to App Annie, the mobile gaming market share looks to increase to at least 60 percent by the end of 2019.
The year 2018 also saw some major developments take place within the industry itself, including the widespread release of console-quality games for mobile, the continuing trend for augmented reality (AR) and a slew of hyper-casual offerings that saw the genre surge in popularity. Looking ahead to the rest of 2019, and inspired by the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) where Google Stadia was on everybody’s minds and agendas, what trends can we expect to see taking the foreground this year?
Mobile Gaming on the Cloud
Amazon may have been one of the early adopters of the trend last year with its sandbox MMO New World, but in 2019, the major players have gotten in on the cloud-gaming act and are dead set on bringing it to mobile. The launch of the year was undoubtedly Google Stadia at the GDC last month. This ambitious new concept from the tech powerhouse brings game streaming to mobile and the desktop via the Chrome browser and to the TV via Chromecast, although we’re still waiting on an official release date. Slightly less ambitious but also more within the average gamer’s reach are the cloud-gaming offerings from Sony, Microsoft and Tencent. The PlayStation Now cloud-streaming service is already in operation on consoles and PCs, but Microsoft’s Project xCloud makes cloud-streaming Xbox games possible on mobile and tablet devices. Tencent has followed suit by creating a cloud-based streaming service for games that will be available on all Windows and Android devices, including mobiles and tablets.
Not to confuse with the cloud-streaming services above, Apple’s new gaming subscription service — imaginatively titled Apple Arcade — is also a hot new mobile gaming trend set for release on an unspecified date in “the fall of 2019.” From what we’ve gathered from news sources and the official press release, this subscription service gives gamers a monthly pass to a curated selection of titles (playable across mobile, desktop, macOS and Apple TV) that have been specifically developed for the platform. The company has confirmed that each of the games available in the service is playable offline, and DLCs/game updates, etc., are available as part of the subscription. Just like the Google Stadia, we’re still waiting on an exact release date and membership costs for the Apple Arcade, but some of the games we can expect to see in the service come from revered gaming houses SEGA and Konami as well as multimedia giants Disney, Cartoon Network and Sumo Digital.
Competitive Mobile Multiplayer Gaming Continues to Rise
One of the biggest trends in 2018 was undoubtedly mobile multiplayer gaming. The battle royale genre, encompassing titles like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile proved that, even on the micro-screen, gamers’ appetites for real-time multiplayer battles could not satiate. Even the benevolent Pokémon GO got in on the act as the year drew to a close, integrating real-time PVP combat that enabled gamers to live out the original spirit of classic Pokémon battles while they zipped around their localities collecting the little critters. New weapons, maps and updates will likely keep favorites like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile topping the charts for some time to come. However, one of the most anticipated releases this year will be Call of Duty Mobile set for release in summer 2019.
Mobile Gambling and iGaming
It would be remiss of us not to mention this vertical given that it pulled in huge revenue throughout 2018. This year, we can once more expect iGaming (which encompasses online casino gambling, sports wagering, online poker and financial competitions like lotteries) to dominate the sector. New research from the U.K. Gambling Commission analyzing the gaming habits of Britons shows that 1.6 million gamers regularly play online casino or wagering apps on their mobiles. As the demand increases, we will likely see real money gaming apps become much more immersive, with software houses like Microgaming and NetEnt providing a console-quality gaming experience on the go, which will be comparable to their video gaming cousins. Virtual reality (VR) casinos are also likely to become more widespread in the online gambling market, especially after the success of some initiatives, but whether that can transpose successfully onto mobile remains unknown.