The mobile gaming industry saw revenues hit $40.6 billion at the end of 2016 showing the huge potential that the platform had now reached. It was not always so popular amongst players, particularly in the US. So the question has to be asked, why did the attitude to mobile gaming change in the US?
The Mobile Movement
These are fascinating days for mobile gaming. Over the last decade, interest in mobile gaming has rocketed across the globe. A number of reasons contribute to this with mobile usage increasing, mobile technology improving, and mobile developers making more games available to play on the mobile platform.
It is hard to believe that the iPhone changed the landscape of mobile gaming when it released a Sonic the Hedgehog emulator on 18th December, 2007. This eclipsed the quality of previous mobile games that were limited to the quality of Tetris and Snake.
The following years saw a number of classic mobile titles hit the market. Games such as Words with Friends by Zynga, Angry Birds by Rovio Entertainment, and Cut the Rope by Zepto Lab took mobile gaming to a new level with vastly superior graphics and addictive gameplay.
More recently, the evolution of gaming on the mobile platform has taken its next step. Pokemon GO by Niantic was released in the summer of 2016 and captured the imagination of a generation of mobile gamers. It was the first game on mobile devices to use camera technology to imprint game graphics onto a real-life setting. The challenge has now been set for developers to reach that level of innovation and creativity.
It is predicted that the mobile gaming industry will be worth $52.5 billion by the end of 2019. It is already more lucrative than PC and computer console revenues. The current revenue figures are equal to worldwide movie box office revenues. The mobile gaming industry has also experienced an increase of 18% in revenues year-on-year at the end of 2016.
Asia remains the leading light in mobile gaming revenues with over a half of revenues being generated in the region. However, revenues in North America and Europe are on the rise. One of the reasons for this is the arrival of some big developers onto the mobile market such as Activision Blizzard purchasing King and Tencent buying up Supercell.
In that respect, mobile gaming owes a lot to PC gaming for its continued growth and success. It is the recent transformation of mobile games to a more desktop identity that has attracted PC gamers as well as traditional mobile players.
The Mobile Casino Boom
Recent years has also seen online casino games, such as blackjack, emigrate from the online to the mobile platform. Online casinos have moved quickly to offer mobile casino gaming to players on smartphones and that has either come via a mobile-specific site or a mobile app.
This has had a knock-on effect and seen developers release classic casino games in mobile form such as casino slots, mobile poker, and even live mobile casino gaming. The change in state laws across the US to legalise mobile gambling has meant players across the US have easier access to mobile gambling.
What Did Change Mobile Gaming in the US?
A number of factors can be taken into consideration when trying to decipher what changed the face of the mobile gaming industry in the US. In 2011, only 35% of US adults owned a smart phone. Fast forward to 2017, and that percentage has increased to 77%.
The number of mobile apps downloaded across America during 2016 was 29.2 billion. This number is anticipated to rise to 37.3 billion by the end of 2017 and 74.7 billion by 2021. Proof showing that players are downloading more mobile games than ever before with more games available in app stores than ever before.
Finally, the quality of games has improved. Gone are the days of one-dimensional titles with a limited appeal. Mobile games have now become mini-desktop games with depth and variety. Titles such as The Room, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy IX are proof that the mobile gaming revolution is only just beginning.