November 2020 saw the release of both the Xbox Series X and the PS5, representing a much-anticipated new era of console gaming. More than 700 million gamers choose consoles to indulge in their favoured pastime and the console industry was set to generate an estimated $45 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. With both Sony and Microsoft pushing ahead with new console releases, gamers have plenty to get their teeth into as we enter 2021.
The Console Gaming Market
Console gaming is big business, and the new console releases have certainly given gamers everywhere something to think about. However, while console gaming is still big business, it is mobile gaming that is beating the competitors in terms of growth. Figures from 2019 show that mobile gaming dominates the industry by some margin, accounting for 51% of total gaming revenue. This total revenue is predicted to reach $180 billion worldwide in 2021, which means mobile gaming revenue should be in excess of $90 billion.
While the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles sold out rapidly following their initial release, the impact on the mobile gaming market has been negligible. While many gamers play on multiple platforms and devices, there is an independent market for mobile games that remains largely unaffected by new console releases. The number of total gamers worldwide is on the rise, with people turning to games across all devices as a way of entertaining themselves.
Mobile Gaming Choices
Mobile games have a wide appeal as players have almost unlimited choice. Many mobile games can be played completely free, or for very little financial outlay. Others follow the freemium model, where players can access the basic games without paying a penny but have the opportunity to pay money to unlock new features or advance more quickly. Console games, on the other hand, often set players back by around $60 or the equivalent just to be able to play.
The Convenience of Mobile
The convenience of mobile is one of the key factors driving mobile gaming success. Almost everyone in the western world owns a smartphone or has access to a mobile device. People with smartphones tend to have those phones with them all the time, which means they are easily accessible when on the go. People enjoy the ease with which they can access quick mobile games at times when they would otherwise be bored, such as when waiting for public transport, travelling, or waiting for a takeaway coffee.
The choice of available mobile games is also virtually unlimited. People can access quick, satisfying games designed to kill time, or they can engage in multi-plyer online games with friends, get involved in lengthy strategy-based games or revisit old favourites such as Texas Holdem Poker, all from their smartphones at any time of day or night. In 2021, there are several planned new mobile game releases that are being awaited with bated breath by gamers around the world.
Magic: The Gathering
Magic: The Gathering began as a collectible card game in the early nineties and launched as an online version in 2002. It is one of the most popular games in the genre and, from January 2021, Magic: The Gathering Arena will accessible via mobile. The phased release plans for select Android phones to be able to access the game first, followed by other Android devices and an iOS version later in the year. Fans can expect cross-platform play to be fully supported, meaning those that do not yet have the mobile version can still compete from their PCs with others on smartphones.
Apex Legends from Respawn has been slated for the first mobile release at the start of the 2021/2022 fiscal year, meaning fans can anticipate a roll-out from the beginning of April. Apex Legends has achieved global popularity, particularly with audiences in Asia. Recent updates and releases include a live service game introduced in early 2020 and the launch of Season 7, which includes new characters and an all-new Battle Map among other features.
Pokémon Unite will follow on from the wildly successful Pokémon Go as a mobile version based on the highly popular Japanese characters. An official launch date has not yet been announced, but sources suggest fans can expect Pokémon Unite to reach their mobiles sometime in 2021. The game will be based on the freemium model which means players can get involved without spending any money. However, it is likely that there will be plenty of potential microtransaction opportunities throughout the game to generate funds and improve playability. As Pokémon Go stands testament to, there are plenty of mobile Pokémon players willing to make those transactions to get ahead. Pokémon Unite is set for launch across Android and iOS devices as well as the Nintendo Switch handheld.
Mobile gaming is already big business and, with popular new releases such as these planned for 2021, it seems unlikely that the growth of the industry will slow down any time soon. People are known to enjoy convenience and, in the modern, fast-paced culture, devices that allow for instant play any time, anywhere, are likely to continue to rival consoles and PCs in terms of gaming revenue. Even with many games free at source, mobile game developers are dominating a huge and growing global industry.