2020 is set to be a blockbuster year for gaming. In particular, mobile games that don’t need the player to invest in a console or any other equipment. One of the effects of the stay-at-home and quarantine orders during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has been that people have needed to find things to keep them occupied.
Gaming has been a savior for many people during this time because not only is it fun, but many games are also social. The ability to maintain a virtual social life when real socializing has vanished has been extremely important for many gamers.
This IDC and App Annie research into the gaming market in 2020 already indicates some of the changes and growth we can expect to see. Some of the key highlights I can see in the report are:
- Mobile gaming is the primary driver of growth for digital game consumption
- Mobile gaming was already growing faster than other gaming sectors before the crisis, but Covid-19 is helping mobile to grow even faster.
- Consumers are spending more time at home and this is likely to remain. Even as many bars and restaurants open, there will be many restrictions that mean some gamers will prefer to just continue gaming rather than returning to earlier forms of socializing. This will accelerate the growth of multiplayer games faster because of the accessibility of mobile games – most consumers already have a smartphone and that is all they need.
Mobile game players also spend more than other types of gamers. Console games typically see the investment upfront when purchasing the game. Mobile games are either a low initial investment or free (freemium), but then there is the opportunity to spend during gameplay. Observations from the research are:
- Consumer spend is highest in mobile games with a real-time or multiplayer game mode. Clearly the real-time cooperation with others makes for a more exciting experience and therefore players are more likely to spend.
- Mobile games generate about 70% of all revenue from apps, yet games are only 40% of downloaded apps.
- The impact of using video ads inside games is limited. 76% of those questioned in the research said they are neutral on ads.
As people are spending more time at home, because they are working from home or just are not yet comfortable with other entertainment options outside the home, they are increasingly turning to mobile gaming as a primary source of connection to other people and entertainment.
This IDC research demonstrates that while mobile gaming first overtook both home game consoles and PC and Mac gaming for consumer spend in 2014, mobile gaming’s lead has widened dramatically since then. In 2020, mobile game spending is set to extend its lead to more than 2.8x over desktop gaming and 3.1x more than home game consoles.
Mobile gaming was already in a league of its own before the pandemic crisis, but now it is soaring into a new environment where it is the dominant games environment.
This is all positive news for gamers and the companies producing mobile games, but there is also a need for caution and planning. As new players start using their mobile devices for more gaming they are likely to need more support than experienced gamers. The success of welcoming all these new gamers has to be balanced with the challenge of supporting them all.
If player support is not improved and boosted as mobile gaming booms then there will be a significant decline in the quality of the player experience – and that risks losing them to alternative games. Ramping up player support is critical for all game companies that want to ride this wave.
I believe that we are seeing a permanent change. New gamers are downloading games to their mobile device and gamers who stopped playing years ago are returning to gaming. It’s a highly social activity and it’s fun – exactly what people need right now.
Photo by Atomplatic licensed under Creative Commons.