Esports and Mobile Games in 2022: A Partnership For Success
Who would have thought that esports and mobile games would go hand in hand? Mobile games are essentially the antithesis of esports, but it turns out the two industries can be beneficial to each other! Here’s what we know about this unexpected trend so far, and how you can get involved in the near future.
What are esports?
Esports are competitive video games, where players battle each other using a variety of different strategies. Players can go head-to-head or play as part of a team. They have been growing rapidly since their inception in 1972, with gaming competitions drawing thousands of spectators and even offering prize pools worth millions of dollars. The most popular esports genres include first-person shooters (FPS), real-time strategy (RTS), fighting games, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and multiplayer online battle arena strategy (MOBA). With mobile devices being such an integral part of everyday life nowadays, it’s only natural that esports have found their way to smartphones as well. However, designing an app with gameplay meant for professional gamers poses unique challenges.
An overview of how the current esport system works
Within esports right now, there are two main business models. The first is endemic (owned by a game developer), like Riot’s League of Legends Championship Series or Valve’s Dota 2 The International tournament. The second model is a third-party organizer that creates leagues and events—like Blizzard’s Overwatch League or ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters circuit—and signs deals with publishers to bring their competitions to life. And each model has strengths when it comes to making money through sponsorships.
The rising popularity of competitive gaming
More than 200 million people watch esports each year, including fans who enjoy watching it as a spectator sport. That’s an audience that mobile game developers can tap into, especially since an increasing number of gamers are choosing to play mobile games over PC or console-based games. Mobile games have already capitalized on that trend, with many developers creating popular titles based off popular console games (like Fortnite). In fact, gaming has become so lucrative for mobile companies that Facebook even went out of its way to acquire developer Oculus VR in 2014 for $2 billion.
How will competitive gaming change over the next few years?
Many esports fans will remember a time when competitive gaming was dominated by PC titles—Counter-Strike, StarCraft II, Warcraft III, DotA 2. And while competitive mobile gaming is still quite small compared to its PC counterparts (with a reported 2.2 billion dollars spent on mobile games in 2017), it’s growing at an incredibly fast rate. In 2018 alone, more than 90 percent of revenue from mobile gaming has been generated through free-to-play models rather than premium paid downloads. All signs point to game publishers producing more titles that appeal to audiences looking for something new as opposed to porting existing games over to Android or iOS; already popular esports titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO and Overwatch have spawned numerous mobile versions so far.
Will there be enough growth to sustain it as a profitable venture?
Of course, revenue is just one side of the profitability equation. You need to look at costs as well—specifically your development costs—to make sure you can come out ahead financially. In other words, is it even possible for esports games to become a profitable venture? Or are we just creating a bunch of arcade titles that will never generate enough revenue to matter? ___________________________________________
What are the biggest growth opportunities for the industry over the next five years?
The esports market is still very much up for grabs, but it seems like two main sources of revenue will be controlling what direction things go from here. The first are mobile games and their growth will have a huge effect on whether or not we’ll see a standardization of esports. First, smartphones continue to get cheaper while also getting better at processing games; because so many people already own one, most don’t need to specifically buy something new to play around with esports games. And second, betting sites love mobile games because they can easily drive ad revenues—it doesn’t matter if you lose or win when all you want is an advertisement. Betting sites might end up being bigger backers than major game companies.
How can developers, streamers, teams, advertisers and sponsors all benefit from this growth?
As mobile games continue to grow within esports, developers can benefit from revenue opportunities, especially when partnering with sponsors. In addition, streamers can begin to make a name for themselves on mobile streaming platforms such as Mobcrush and Twitch, then use their success to catapult them into larger teams or even their own organizations. Teams will get access to more talent who may not have had an opportunity to play on traditional rosters while advertisers can reach a new audience that previously wasn’t available to them through television broadcasts. All of these partnerships will be beneficial for all parties involved; esports fans are starting to consume content through multiple platforms and there’s money to be made by allowing brands and media companies into what was once just a community of gamers.
The influx of esports games that are constantly being released on mobile devices is fantastic for both players and game developers alike. The industry as a whole will continue to thrive if companies keep focusing on these two things—after all, I’m sure we can all agree that no one likes lag or spotty connections. If you need help developing a great strategy for your esports or mobile gaming business, let us know—we have some ideas up our sleeves.