Games for mobile platforms are as popular as ever after the pandemic peak. Let’s look at the recent mobile gaming trends to find out what to expect from the market next year.
MOBILE GAMING TRENDS IN 2022-2023
In recent years, mobile gaming is becoming increasingly attractive for all categories of players — from casuals to hardcore. All thanks to simplicity and accessibility: almost everyone has a smartphone today powerful enough to run something more complex than Snake. Naturally, mobile gaming companies and publishers have a big interest in the growing market. Thus we are getting more ambitious projects from talented game development masters each year. Join our Lead Developer to learn about the latest mobile game market trends and discover what it takes to make your own mobile title!
THE STATE OF THE MOBILE GAMING MARKET TODAY
The growth of the PC and console market was saltatory during the first pandemic years. Now it slowly returns to its normal state. At the same time, mobile gaming is still ramping up power and does not show any signs of stopping just yet. In 2012, mobile games had just an 18% market share, but in 2021 this number reached whopping 59%! In the US, the majority of people prefer to play at home (40%) and during daily commutes (34%), or at work (16%).
Modern smartphones are both working and playing stations, so no wonder that people pack them with various games to kill time. With the rising popularity of mobile platforms, game developers no longer limit themselves to primitive casual games like three-in-a-row. The mobile gaming industry can provide cool analogs of your favorite franchises like Hitman and Deus Ex or absolutely new IPs. This is how mobile gaming matures and learns how to satisfy demanding players that need a perfect balance of complexity, engagement, and duration of game sessions.
According to SensorTower, by the end of 2024, the mobile gaming market is going to hit $98B (which is 150% of the numbers in 2019). Activision Blizzard reports that its total revenue is 50% higher than the sum predicted by analytics only due to the success of Call of Duty on mobile devices. Who would have known just a few years ago that shooters on smartphones would be so profitable? And not just shooters, we must add.
Seeing great potential in making games, more and more startups and small teams decide to dive into the industry. Humble mobile games don’t need crazy budgets, have shorter return on investment periods, and can potentially yield huge profits (especially if you compare them to full-scale projects for PC or consoles).
Today even beginner developers can make their games — solo or with the help of outsourcing studios — and monetize them by adding subscriptions, in-game stores with various stuff, or simply integrating ads. However, it requires a great deal of dev expertise and understanding of the trends to make a title that will have chances to appeal to the public. So let us briefly touch on the major mobile game market trends.
In 2022, the number of mobile gamers had passed the 2.9 billion mark. This led to intensive market growth and high competition in all its niches. If we convert the statistics into raw numbers, we will see that revenues on the mobile market leave the movie and music industries far behind. The evolution of mobile gaming will gift us new fantastic titles and franchises as engaging as high-budget TV shows. Today we are still at the beginning of it all, so everyone has a chance to hop on this train and try to create mobile games.
Some modern games for smartphones can be on par with consoles or PC titles. Take Genshin Impact as an example. Although it feels like a mobile project, it still plays like a solid game that has fully-fledged gameplay and a strong storyline. If you are more into hardcore titles like Dark Souls, then go check Pascal’s Wager on iOS or Android. Its success on mobile platforms led to a PC port! Impressive, right?
Apart from the growing complexity of mobile games, there is another truly important trend that might become a new golden standard in a few years to come. We are talking about brands and artist integration into digital environments. Not on the scale of simple collaborations but much more significant — to the point where gaming worlds transform into tools for marketing communications. Amazon is already testing automatic ad generation on Twitch streams (visible only to the viewers, not the streamer), for example. Such innovations make mobile gaming one of the most promising areas in the entertainment industry.
With the popularization of cloud technologies, mobile game developers have received an amazing opportunity to realize their ideas and create games without expensive hardware. We already see early, brave attempts to make exclusively cloud-based titles. In the future, it will result in the rejuvenation of the MMO genre on mobile devices. Stable and powerful cloud platforms will let MMOs have more realistic physics (like in GTA). It was practically impossible in the past due to the following dilemma: you either had to process tons of data on the players’ devices or transmit and synchronize it between clouds and smartphones in real time.
High-speed mobile Internet also helps with the aforementioned problem by minimizing the input lag and assuring swift uninterrupted data transfer. We see it as one of the major factors for the mobile market growth in the near future. The 5G boom is expected to happen in the next two years, so we will have to wait and see how it goes. Now it appears that in the second half of the decade, there will be no serious challenges for mobile game developers. Big publishers and studios seem to realize it as well and make investment moves.
NOTABLE MOBILE GAMES (2022)
It is good to know what games have achieved popularity or got commercial success because you can learn from their examples. Most projects in the mobile gaming industry share similarities, but the devil is in the details. Details make some titles shine while others sink. This November, we tried a bunch of games and want to present you with our favorites.
This game is also available on Steam, so you will have no problem playing it on PC, not just mobile devices. Plus, it also supports cross-play, which is highly appreciated by the gaming community as it allows you to move your stuff seamlessly from one platform to another. TI sits with 4.5 stars out of 17k reviews and 500k+ downloads. We can recommend this game to all fans of the original Torchlight. It brings back the golden days of action RPGs and does it in style.
Quick battles, innovative mechanics, and favorite characters from the Marvel universe. This game is a breath of fresh air in the world of card collectible games. Marvel Snap is perfect both for casual and serious players with tons of strategies, crazy cool card effects, and multiple deck archetypes. Moreover, it is one of those multiplayer games you can play freely without regular investments. It reminds us of Hearthstone upon its release. Currently, Marvel Snap has 4.4 stars out of 23k reviews with 1M+ downloads.
Very Little Nightmares
This is not a f2p game like the two above. It costs $6.99 in the app stores, but with a rating of 4.6 stars out of 14k reviews and over 100k downloads, we can say it is worth every cent. VLN is a casual puzzle game with an incredible artwork style. Once you see it, you will have it in your memory forever. Remember the designs/artwork from Cuphead or Super Meat Boy? The same story here. The same memorable feel that you are going to enjoy if you are into puzzle games.
Rise of cultures
One of those kingdom-builder games where you take control over a nation/fraction and develop it. We decided to include it in this list just because it is fresh and has positive reviews from the public (4.3 stars out of 100k+ reviews and 1M+ downloads). The game’s mechanics are pretty similar to what we know from the genre. You are going to be building up your village, training your personal army, and teaming up with other players or even guilds to dominate the land. If you love this type of games, then it is worth checking out.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A QUALITY MOBILE GAME?
So you want to know how to develop mobile titles? Where to start, what to do, and when? So here is a quick raw guide for you!
Come up with an idea and learn the market/niche
Before starting your project, you must decide what it is going to be and for whom. First, choose its genre — will it be an arcade, shooter, simulator, or maybe an RPG? Next, define the age of your target audience, then move on to the second step.
Choose the game’s category
All mobile games can be divided into three categories: casual, midcore, and hardcore. Causal games don’t need a story and have simplistic controls. They bet on quick gameplay sessions and easy-to-learn mechanics to engage players. Midcores are complex projects that require original mechanics/artwork and usually have a plot. Most commercially successful titles in stores fall into this category. Hardcore games are for avid gamers that seek challenge and are ready to learn sophisticated mechanics and face fierce enemies. If you are just making the first steps in game development, we recommend going either casual or midcore.
Select the platform
The decisive factor here is your target market. If you don’t have enough resources to make versions of the game for both iOS and Android, then focus on the one that seems more profitable (or has more solvent players).
Invent key mechanics and describe core gameplay
They will help you attract people to try the game. But to keep them engaged, you gonna need something more. For instance, you can make gradually increasing difficulty, shorter levels, add unlockable content, achievements, bonuses, etc. Take a closer look at the current mobile game market trends for inspiration.
Prepare original visuals
Designing mobile games is much harder in comparison to applications. You need to take into account countless details when preparing concepts for characters, environments, props, and interfaces. Flawless design requires thousands of little things done just right. To ensure that, you are going to need professional designers that know their craft well. Experienced artists can create a unique design that will make your game stand out from the crowd.
Pretty self-explanatory. When all preparations are ready, then let your programmers do their magic. Just don’t forget to test how it plays in practice and catch all glitches and bugs before the release.
Build your marketing strategy
Even an ideal game will not pay off without a promotion of some sort. If you have a budget for more aggressive marketing campaigns, there are limitless opportunities to promote your product: blog posts, videos on YouTube, streams on Twitch, ads on social media platforms, and so on.
FOLLOW MOBILE GAME MARKET TRENDS WITH ARGENTICS!
Planning to step into the territory of mobile game development but don’t have the personnel to do the job? Or not sure how many additional hands you are going to need for it? Consult with us about your next project, and we guarantee that you will be satisfied with our personal approach, high development quality, and full transparency of the process!
Our specialists have knowledge, expertise, and experience with developing mobile games for all popular platforms. We always initiate the job with a clear understanding of the requirements and specifications, then dive into an agile development cycle and strive to release the mobile game on time. Don’t hesitate to contact us now or check our portfolio with previously released projects!