Mobile’s Evolving Gaming Experience

May 24, 2021
By: Can Celik

The overall gaming industry had already been growing steadily over the past several years, but 2020 brought on a massive push in the market. Gamers found themselves with more time on their hands and consequently spent more time (and money) on games on various platforms. Games continue to evolve, but where are the audiences now after a banner year of usage? We turned to GlobalWebIndex for their insights on the current gaming landscape.

GWI’s Gaming Playbook contains research gathered across 15 countries to give a comprehensive look into gamers’ online and offline lives. Mobile gaming now offers a wider range of experiences not only for those playing but also for those watching, particularly esports. In this recap, we’ll look specifically at GWI’s research on mobile games and how technology and increased playing time during the pandemic has pushed the platform to new heights.

Audiences During the “Gaming Boom”

It is easy to assume that the gaming boom had taken off during the pandemic. Titles like Animal Crossing and Among Us had become household names, and consumers of all demographics were finding themselves spending lots of time gaming. But the truth is that the gaming audience was already massive and had been growing steadily rather than exponentially. The real change was in how it commanded people’s time and the ways they were playing.

According to GWI’s data, 81% of gamers play on mobile while 65% play on PC/laptop. Smartphone players, in particular, may not be the most interested in gaming, but 37% of them are playing every day. When it comes to reasons for playing, smartphone gamers play mostly for fun. Many of them play for the challenge and to escape reality. Storylines and narratives are not as important, with only 18% citing those as reasons to play. The survey also asked gamers about their frustrations about gaming. The biggest one for smartphone gamers (32%) was that games don’t always run smoothly. 31% said it could be too expensive to progress. Most mobile games are free but offer microtransactions to get ahead in the game. In our research, we’ve seen that most gamers prefer to watch rewarded video ads than to pay for in-app rewards.

Mobile Gaming’s Continued Evolution

Mobile gaming has catapulted to the forefront of the industry because of the widespread adoption of smartphones. Gaming apps have been largely seen as “casual” titles, especially when compared to console and PC/laptop games that have been more large-scale. In the past few years, advances in hardware and big-name franchises, like Fortnite and League of Legends, have now widened the landscape of experiences on smartphones. Mobile games have evolved past the classic puzzle and word games and are much more immersive and expansive for players.

Despite this growth, mobile games still have yet to tick all the boxes for players in terms of motivations. Gaming apps still have a way to go to get their players to stick around for storylines and the chance to compete online. Console and PC/laptop games have been doing that for decades now. That being said, mobile games are not severely far behind. As franchises continue to invest in their mobile titles and technology advances, mobile games can provide richer experiences for audiences that will keep them coming back beyond just passing the time.

Mobile is the Gateway for New Esports Fans

Brands have been turning to ads and sponsorships in esports for its ability to reach a desired demographic. But there is still a lot to learn about esports and its fans to really take advantage of this platform for advertising purposes. GWI discovered that mobile is the top device to watch esports at 69%, followed closely by laptops/PCs at 66%. Like gaming, mobile will be the catalyst in the growth of esports. Mobile has become a gateway for many new followers because of its low barrier to entry.

China has had a thriving mobile esports scene for some time, but the report points out that India has been an emerging esports market with enormous potential. The country’s gaming industry is valued at $930 million and is among the world’s top 5 mobile gaming markets. According to GWI’s research, an astounding 84% of gamers in India say they’re interested in esports.