Ten years ago, many experts in the realm of entertainment technology expected VR to revolutionize gaming around the world. The idea was that the headsets would be accessible enough to change how people game, adding a new dimension to the industry.
However, VR hit multiple roadblocks that it’s only now overcoming. These relate to advancements in software and hardware, the affordability of headsets, and the gameplay mechanics of VR titles. While VR languished, AR took off—and helped catapult interest in mobile gaming.
Back in 2016, Nintendo released Pokémon GO. This game introduced millions worldwide to AR technology. Most importantly, it bridged AR and mobile devices. While VR was tied to clunky wires and needed a screen to connect to, the smartphone could handle complex AR processes.
And that was just the beginning. Since 2016, mobile gaming has boomed. Global News Wire expects mobile gaming to be worth more than $214 billion by 2028. That’s because there are now around three billion people worldwide playing mobile games.
Consistent Growth in Casino Gaming
If there’s one solid sector of mobile gaming, it’s casinos. Worldwide, millions of people enjoy playing titles like slots, poker, and blackjack. And with brick-and-mortar casinos hard to come by (and often lacking in deals), most casino gamers stick to a mobile device. There, they can find casino offers from FanDuel and similar iGaming brands.
This trend highlights one of the reasons that mobile gaming is so popular. Not only does it offer unparalleled convenience for remote gamers, but it also tends to connect them to better deals. They can find more varied titles than they would on a console or a PC, and can easily acquaint themselves with a new provider just by exploring their mobile app.
eSports Heading To Mobile
Casino gaming could be clumped under casual gaming, which we’ll explore below. While casual games are the clear standout for mobile, there has been a rise in eSports that use a smartphone format. In fact, there are even mobile eSports leagues, including Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Battlegrounds: Mobile, and Garena Free Fire.
These leagues include prize money that’s on par or greater than some console and PC-based leagues. PUBG, for example, had a prize pool that exceeded $5 million back in 2020.
But gamers aren’t just looking at mobile titles to launch an eSports career. Millions more are also tuning in to watch live mobile eSports competitions. Arena of Valor notched more than 70 million hours of content watched back in 2021, which helped boost prize money beyond $10 million last year.
Most People Enjoy Casual Gaming
Casino games like slots could be considered casual games because they’re designed more for relaxation than competition. This represents one of the biggest pulls of mobile gaming: it’s recreational. From puzzle games like Wordle to simulations like Stardew Valley, there’s an endless reel of casual fun to be had.
This has helped onboard millions of players—most of whom don’t consider themselves gamers. They’re just passing the time with a match game like Candy Crush Saga or swiping through fruits in Fruit Ninja. The idea isn’t necessarily to improve, but just to pass time enjoyably.
Expansion Expected in XR
Above, we explored how Pokémon GO helped transform mobile gaming. It did so by offering something gamers hadn’t seen before: AR technology within a mobile app. While this has led to plenty of expansion and exploration within AR mobile technology, it’s also set the stage for greater change in the future.
Many are looking into a new concept called eXtended Reality or XR. XR is an umbrella term that encompasses AR, VR, and Mixed Reality (MR) projects. As mobile developers explore how they can adapt virtual, augmented, and mixed technology to their projects, smartphones will be the focus of new formats in gaming. Specifically, as 5G networks improve connectivity, this might translate to cloud-based streaming, multi-screen gaming capabilities, and more.
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