Mobile games represent an explosive industry, potentially turning every smartphone owner into an obsessive gamer. Anyone with an interest in esports will want to grab a piece of that popularity, but are mobile games ready to be esports?
In 2017, Newzoo projected that mobile games represented 42% of the total gaming market, valuing them at 46.1 billion of the market share. PC games sat at 29.4 billion and console gaming was at 33.5 billion. Future projections estimate that by 2020, mobile gaming will be 50% of the market. Clash of Clans and Mobile Legends are estimated to have over 100 millions downloads. Google Play places Vainglory at over 10 million downloads. Arena of Valor, a new game to the North American market, has over 200 million downloads in China and 80 million active users every day.
These games dwarf PC esports. Overwatch hit 35 million downloads worldwide while CSGO and Dota 2 struggle to hit one millions active players a day. Games like Fortnite and PUBG are doing a better job of tapping into a larger player base, but they have also entered the mobile market, recognizing the value of the reach mobile gaming provides. Mobile gaming represents a huge increase in ease of access - everyone has a smartphone. Developers can push their games into the esports scene and experience a wider audience that isn’t faced with the traditional barriers to entry into gaming. Consoles and high end PCs are considered a luxury, smartphones aren’t anymore.
Immortals has wasted no time in securing a place in mobile esports. Arena of Valor only arrived in North America in December 2017, and it has already been welcomed into the competitive gaming scene. Immortals launched a new mobile division, signing a roster captained by “Assassin Dave.” The team will compete for a spot in the upcoming $500,000 Arena of Valor World Cup in Los Angeles.
Immortals are a veritable giant in the esports world. They built their brand off of League of Legends and have since shown success in in Dota 2, CSGO, Smash, Overwatch, and Vainglory. The CEO, Noah Winston, has demonstrated his knowledge of the space with smart investments and expansions into a variety of games.
Mobile games represent the fastest growing segment of the gaming industry, and mobile esports are poised to benefit from that explosive growth. Today’s announcement is another significant milestone for Immortals, and we are very excited to work with one of the industry’s top mobile game publishers in Tencent to deliver phenomenal mobile gaming experiences to our fans. - Noah Winston
Immortals’ investment into Arena of Valor is a solid step for mobile games, giving publicity and legitimacy to an emerging market. Their willingness to hire staff and sign players forecasts the entry of more organizations into the market. As gaming orgs and developers build off of each other, we should expect to see mobile esports grow - whether or not the games are actually poised to be a “good esport.”
Esports scenes can be created as long as game creators are willing to pour enough money into their development. We have seen evidence of that with the groundbreaking $1,600,000 International that launched Dota 2 in 2011, the upcoming $1,000,000 Artifact tournament, and Blizzard’s investment into Overwatch League. Overwatch has a history of balance issues and suboptimal spectator systems. Dota had a strong player base, but prize pools and the competitive scene were nothing until The International and eventual Major systems changed the playing field. Enough money and advertising can build scenes out of nothing.
Mobile games have no shortage of money. Their ease of access and microtransaction driven design taps into high revenue potential. Developers of “esport ready” mobile games have incentives to harness the viewership potential of esports while endemic and non endemic brands can easily see the value of advertising in such a popular space.
The audiences that mobile gaming can bring might change the face of esports, pushing competitive gaming fully into the spotlight and changing our PC driven consumption. In an ideal world, a good esport would be defined by complex mechanics, a high skill ceiling, and exciting viewing potential. In reality, esports scenes are usually born from developer investment rather than pure competition. This doesn’t mean that mobile games are going to take an unearned place in esports - it just means that they are here to stay as long as developers see the monetary value.
Mobile gaming will engage entirely new audiences that esports has never had before. Tournaments will have access to player bases ten times the size. Casual gamers can tune in at any time on their smartphones and tablets. The ability for games to cross PC, console, and smartphone platforms (like Fortnite and PUBG) opens entirely new ways that esports can be marketed. Demographics are expanding and advertisers are having a field day with finding new ways to reach normally adblock protected audiences.
Who doesn’t want their favorite game at their fingertips at all times? Mobile gaming has arrived in the esports scene, it’s time to join Immortals and dive in.