The Growth in the Mobile Gaming Industry

Chetcuti Cauchi | 11 Oct 2013

The Growth in the Mobile Gaming Industry-img

This article has been updated on 2nd January 2019

What do we mean by Gaming?

Briefly, mobile gaming may be defined as playing a video game on a mobile device, usually on phones or tablets but excluding handheld video game systems. In addition, mobile gaming necessarily requires the use of certain platforms such as iOS or Android to operate and in certain cases, different native binary formats may need to be adopted for games that are more sophisticated. The inception of mobile gaming took place in 1994 when Tetris game was made available on the Hagenuk MT-2000 device then followed by the triumphant launch of Nokia's Snake game in 1997.


How has the Mobile Gaming Industry evolved?

With the technological advancements that mobile phones have gone through towards the end of the last century, mobile phone games became very much of a trend particularly with the influx of smartphones and increased technological sophistication. Eventually, cameras on these mobile phones got so good in quality that Augmented Reality games started to boom because of the departure from the primitive hardware and software technology. Surprisingly, both Europe and the United States were trailing behind in gaining popularity in mobile gaming unlike Asia, notably Japan. Back in 2003, mobile gamers in Japan could choose from a broad array of mobile games which varied from puzzle games to 3D games with very high-quality graphics.


The Mobile Gaming Industry Today

At present, with the saturated phone and tablet markets, the mobile gaming industry still generated over $41 billion in the year 2017. A study of mobile gamers found that the majority pick social gaming. The trend in mobile gaming amounts to millions of monthly active users who play casino-related social games as well as role-playing social games. Many who actually play social games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush do so via social networking sites like Facebook or Facebook Messenger. Zynga was formerly one of the largest and most profitable social game developers, earning $10 billion a year at its peak, but has since declined. This continues to prove that mobile gaming has become the most sought after gaming method with mobile games being the most sought-after app category in both the Apple App Store and Google Play.


Gaming Industry: Mobile Gaming vs Console Gaming

When comparing mobile gaming with console gaming, it is shown that with the advancement in mobile technological devices people are more willing to spend both their money and time on phones and tablets. Indeed, it also appears that amongst mobile device owners, mobile gaming is deemed to be the most important activity that they perform among texting, calling, and internet surfing. An attempt to sell gaming consoles as a platform which acts as a separate piece of hardware is becoming a somewhat murky idea. This is all based on the fact that since the computing history has never witnessed such a great significance on gaming as an activity, then it may be validly concluded that the gaming industry does not afford to remain tied to the traditional gaming technologies and platforms. It cannot be inferred that gaming consoles will become suddenly obsolete since several console devices including Playstation 4 and Xbox One have successfully penetrated the market. In effect, Nintendo, the world’s largest video game company in terms of revenue, has calculated a downfall in sales because gamers are currently looking for cheaper, more portable, and even more powerful alternatives more than consoles can ever be. Nintendo saw the promulgation of mobile gaming and the slump in sales of traditional gaming consoles, and in 2017 launched the Nintendo Switch a cross-breed between mobile and console gaming - a more versatile gaming platform than the previous portable consoles such as the Nintendo DS and the PS Vita. 


Advantages of Mobile Gaming

The very fact that a phone or tablet is devised for multi-purpose services enables, and also attracts even more adults and the elderly to use these devices for the purpose of gaming through integrated social networking sites. This indubitably triggers people to start playing anywhere, anytime, and with anyone across the globe. Statistics indicate that 25% of the adult population becomes aware of the new games available on the market through social media sites. In addition, the fact that the average age of a mobile gamer is 28 years old whereas the average age of a social gamer is 39 years old signals a prospective increase in mobile social gaming in the adult population. The reason accounting for a probable increase may realistically be that most adults would neither have had, nor would have sought, the opportunity to familiarise themselves with new technologies for the mere reason that as for quite recently specialised technological hardware existed for different purposes contrarily to the multi-purpose nature of the phones and tablets.



However, it is worthy of consideration that due to the fact that the European Union has been slow to regulate mobile gambling law, by creating a harmonised mobile gambling legislative framework, repercussions may take place unnoticed. Furthermore, it is principally essential to abolish national legislation in Member States, as Finland has done, that allows the operation of a government monopoly on internet casinos. Both from the perspective of consumer protection, the prevention of gambling addiction, as well as from a safer regulatory perspective, there is no other way to guarantee the enjoyment of a healthy growing market in the mobile gaming industry other than by calling for some immediate legal action.


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