With nearly three million games combined across Google Play and the App Store, it’s no secret that mobile gaming has become an increasingly popular activity over the years. In fact, research from Newzoo found that mobile game revenues went over $86.3 billion worldwide in 2020 — a big jump from their previous forecast of $77.2 billion, and a sizeable portion of gaming’s $174.9 billion total revenues last year. No other platform can reach the same number, not even a mainstream avenue like consoles, whose 2020 revenue only hit $51.2 billion.
But does this mean that consoles are losing out to mobile games? Let’s find out
Easy accessibility, freemium content, and endless possibilities
Compared to consoles, mobile devices are much easier to purchase. In fact, more than five billion people now own a mobile device. This huge market has attracted a lot of gaming developers to the platform, from indie companies like InnerSloth to powerhouses like miHoYo. Console publishers like Square Enix and Rockstar Games have even made it a point to port some of their console titles to mobile, albeit in lower quality, like Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition and Grand Theft Auto 3.
Moreover, mobile games are the only ones that offer “freemium” content. These are free-to-download titles but contain in-app purchases for people who would like to take it seriously or support the team. It’s the perfect format for non-mainstream gamers.
Freemium, however, is not a sustainable way to make sales. Fortunately, mobile game developers can integrate ads and other commercial content into their apps, allowing them to still generate revenue. Besides, it’s much cheaper to develop mobile games than games specifically for consoles. Console licenses cost at least $799 every year, while mobile games don’t have that kind of restriction.
This low barrier to entry has encouraged the development of other exciting gaming categories on the platform. For instance, social games like Zynga Poker and Draw Something only exist on mobile. Meanwhile, the slots on Foxy Games comprise an extensive library containing a wide range of different themes, from classic gaming titles like Bejeweled to those inspired by movies like King Kong. The app even has titles based on long-running TV game shows like Deal or No Deal and Wheel of Fortune. Word games, civilization games, and several other formats are also exclusively available on mobile.
Will mobile games replace consoles?
Despite mobile gaming’s overwhelming success compared to console gaming, the former will not replace the latter. The reality is that both platforms cater to different audiences. For example, mobile games are better suited to people who want to play without making a purchase. Meanwhile, console sales are generated from people who are willing to invest money early on. Mobile devices also don’t have the hardware to run high-graphics. Therefore, it can’t host triple-A titles like The Legend of Zelda and The Last of Us.
And when it comes to numbers, we mentioned earlier how console gaming hit $51.2 billion last year. While this is not quite as much as mobile gaming’s $86.3 billion, the statistic is still a 21% year-over-year growth compared to 2019’s console revenue.
In short, mobile and console gaming growth is not a contest. Both of them contribute to the overall success of gaming, with many players often enjoying both. And between tech advancements and new titles, the industry will continue to grow year-on-year.