How Did Mobile Gaming Become a $76 Billion Industry?

Recent estimates have suggested that mobile gaming now comprises a $76 billion industry. For that matter, there are also gaming revenue reports projecting growth to $102.8 billion by 2023! These are astronomical numbers, and while they may not surprise some who are familiar with gaming, they’re worth looking into.

So, how exactly has a relatively new gaming medium grown to this size so quickly? Naturally, there are a lot of factors at play, but a few do stand out in particular.

Growth of Casual Games

“Casual” is not a rigidly defined genre, but it does speak to one of the biggest factors behind mobile gaming growth. Generally, we classify things like puzzles and certain arcades as casual mobile games. They are experiences that don’t take long, but which can be enjoyed for five minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour at a time. These games fit the mobile gaming concept flawlessly in that they enable people to entertain themselves on the go — while riding on trains, sitting in waiting rooms, waking up in the morning, and so on. Casual games have effectively brought about a new type of gaming altogether, and it accounts for a lot of the broader interest in mobile gaming.

Titans in the Space

There have also been some titanic hits in mobile gaming, and together they’ve driven a significant portion of the revenue growth we’ve seen. According to ScreenRant, the biggest of these games — titles like Arena Of Valor, Clash Of Clans, PUBG, and more — have brought in a few billion dollars in revenue apiece to this point. It appears to be the case that the sheer reach of mobile gaming helps to turn hit games into something bigger. Putting it another way, more people have mobile devices than gaming consoles, which can turn a hit in the former category into an outsized success. The result, whatever the case, is billions upon billions of revenue in the mobile space.

Casino Diversification

Casino content is often treated as something separate, but it very much contributes to mobile gaming revenue. Furthermore, it has done so to a greater degree over the years as the category as diversified. Fans of casino mobile games have gradually gotten used to seeing animations, characters, and settings in poker and slot apps — all designed to make them feel a bit more like full arcade games. And more recently other types of casino games have taken similar paths to success. Bingo has come a very long way thanks to what Foxy Bingo characterizes as “themed games” (including some based on content as popular as the TV show Friends). Slingo, which is a hybrid of bingo and slots, is essentially producing the same games. And on top of these examples there are endless roulette and jackpot games with various features designed to entice players. Basically, casino mobile gaming has grown drastically more dynamic and interesting, and has widened its appeal in doing so.

General Improvement

This may seem almost like a lazy observation. On the other hand though, it would be foolish to overlook the fact that mobile games have simply gotten better over the years, even outside of the casino category that has demonstrated such clear improvement. Ten years ago, the most exciting mobile games were a few simple puzzle and arcade experiences — games like Words With Friends, or Harbor Master. Meanwhile, the mobile games making headlines today often resemble console games in quality, no matter what genre they fall into. Look to Pocket Gamer and its regular updates on the medium and you’ll see content licensed from popular material, massive open worlds packed with detail, lovable characters, strategy tips for vast multiplayer experiences, and so on. There’s just a lot going on, to the point that it’s no wonder the revenue numbers are where they are.

A Takeover By Women

Finally, we should also mention the overwhelming presence of women in mobile gaming spaces as a contributing factor. There’s a thoroughly outdated assumption among many that men are the primary gamers. That may have been the case in the past, within certain genres or other parameters. But according to a 2020 Forbes report on the “hypercasual female gamer,” some 63% of the people in the mobile gaming market are women. That number speaks for itself, and indicates that growth among women gamers in particular accounts for some of the big-picture growth we’ve seen.

The bottom line is that just about everything is going right in the mobile gaming industry. The idea that the industry will soon command revenue exceeding $100 billion is not at all far-fetched, and it’s anybody’s guess just how high the totals can get. As growth continues though, the factors above will remain some of the industry’s most important building blocks.

Written by Maya Robertson

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