Going mobile: the mobile gaming boom and expectations for 2021

Gaming has become mainstream and is not a trend going anywhere anytime soon. But how is the mobile gaming boom going to continue evolving?

the mobile gaming boom and expectations

Going mobile: the mobile gaming boom and expectations for 2021


Words by 5CA
Reading time 4 min

Plenty of gamers remember a time when they were the butt of jokes. But thanks to COVID-19 taking Princess Peach to another castle, the whole world is now along for the ride, and “I told you so!” has never felt so bittersweet.

2020 was one of the most challenging years in recent memory. Bad and good things happened, and through it all, there was gaming. These days, mothers, grandpas, and kids are all gaming. Regardless of age, gender, race, or platform of choice, everyone is in it together.

But now the lockdowns are over, is gaming a trend that will stick around? The answer is yes — here’s why.

2020: Gaming’s biggest year yet?

According to Nielsen Games Video Game Tracking (VGT), the number of US gamers playing more in lockdown increased by almost 50%. Furthermore, a global survey in June 2020 showed that 60% of people played multiplayer video games, presumably to compensate for the social aspects lost due to being stuck at home.

Gaming and gamers of all varieties benefitted from global lockdowns. And, no matter your side of the console war, developers went above and beyond to make 2020 manageable.

It was a great year for gaming: from PlayStation’s Play at Home initiative and Xbox’s Free Play Days to Epic Games Store’s free games. Mobile games, in particular, saw a huge increase in players.

Why mobile?

We’ve come a long way since 8-bit platformers. While not everybody has a console or PC, most people have smartphones. Moreover, a lot of smartphone games are free-to-play (F2P). So, people could play without spending money they didn’t have because of layoffs and the accompanying recession.

Mobile games now account for 51% of global revenue in the gaming industry, with an estimated global revenue of $8.5 billion to boot; developers have been rushing to mobile gaming en masse.

And we’re not just talking mobile-exclusive games, either — plenty of renowned developers have successfully leaped from console to mobile.

Crossplay: the final frontier

Once upon a time, exclusive games were “the thing” to do. Be it The Last of Us Part II or Hades, people bought consoles exclusively for their games. However, once only on a console or PC, many developers have also released games for mobile.

Even pre-pandemic, game developers realized the potential of the mobile market and that by releasing their games on mobile, they could increase their player base and potential revenue. As a result, some of 2000’s best gaming records were made on mobile games.

Games that have gone mobile

Although smartphones are a long way from scoring AAA titles, plenty of solid games on Google Play and App Store were once on console or PC. So whether people want to jump into Croft Manor in Fortnite or find a shiny Vulpix in Pokémon Go, these titles have seen great success.

Genshin Impact

Since its September 2020 launch, Genshin Impact has become the fastest title to hit the $1 billion milestone on mobile. It even beat Niantic, generating $874 million in its first five months at twice the speed.

Dead by Daylight

Although initially planned for a 2019 release, Behaviour Interactive released Dead by Daylight Mobile in April 2020. Within 48 hours of its release, the game had over 1 million downloads. By October 2020, it surpassed 10 million.

Animal Crossing

While smash-hit Game of the Year nominee Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t on mobile, there is a smartphone-friendly AC title. Due to the popularity of ACNH amidst the pandemic, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp amassed over 7 million downloads.

Rocket League

Although it’s early days, we wouldn’t be gamers if we didn’t give Rocket League a shout. Rocket League Sideswipe is a F2P spin-off of the wildly popular game due for release in 2021. And it’s already earning significant social media buzz.

Mobile games are driving market growth — and the trend is set to continue

Despite the pandemic easing its grasp, mobile games aren’t going anywhere. Even with the prospect of another global recession, experts still say the mobile games industry will keep going strong. Sensor Tower still forecasts $98 billion in revenue by 2024, a whopping 55.6% increase (and $4 billion higher) than their pre-COVID market predictions.

We’re going to see a lot of exciting mobile gaming trends throughout 2021. From in-depth augmented reality to more cross-platform play, mobile gaming will continue establishing itself as an industry giant.

Just keep gaming

Whatever happens with the world going forth, trends and statistics prove the world will keep gaming.

Volumes will remain high, and as mobile gaming expands, so will the market. As a result, developers and industry leaders will continue making more complex, mobile-focused games. After all, it’s not just Angry Birds and Temple Run anymore: it’s a revolution.

For more insights into upcoming gaming trends or to stay ahead of the game, stick with 5CA. When it comes to gaming, we have a lot to say.



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