Mobile Gaming Goes Global: The Worldwide Popularity of Mobile Games

Back in 2009, Apple coined the phrase, ‘There’s an app for that’. The tech giant had just launched its App Store—and it wanted smartphone users to know that it prioritized the mobile experience. Fast forward almost fifteen years and the mobile app craze hasn’t lifted. Instead, it’s pivoted toward gaming.

Back in 2020, the usage of mobile games leapt, increasing almost 35% from the year before. There are even Yorkshire-themed games, including 2014’s ShinAnimals. The title is an arcade puzzle game, which touches on the area’s natural wonders. In fact, the variety and specificity of titles are what have helped keep mobile gaming at the forefront.

For example, even titles like poker are available for mobile devices now. Before mobile apps boomed in the 2010s, poker was part of the online gaming boom. Today, many prefer virtual platforms, which usually include mobile ports that allow them to play fully on the go. And this isn’t unique to poker, but also to other favourites, from certified eSports titles to digital card collectable games.

While some thought the mobile gaming boom would fizzle out with time, the industry continues to grow. Here’s why that won’t change anytime soon.

Reason #1: Playability

One of the early challenges for mobile game developers was how to make a game playable—not just for a few minutes, but for hours on end. This challenge has been made simpler today for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, mobile phones are better equipped for gaming. Screens are larger, while batteries tend to be more powerful.

Additionally, there are now developers that focus only on mobile titles. That means they have a specialised (and thorough) approach to creating games that suit smartphones, from audio production to visual displays. 

Reason #2: Something for Everyone

Above, we highlighted how titles like poker are now available via smartphones—and on custom-built platforms, nonetheless. This highlights one of the best parts of the mobile gaming industry: its diversity of titles. Back in 2020, it saw a huge boom in casual titles. These are games designed more for recreation than for competition.

For example, simulations are a hugely popular category. These games let players tackle a variety of casual (and even mundane) tasks, from planning gardens to building city infrastructure to crafting the perfect interior design. Even if you’re not a gamer, there’s a mobile title just for you.

Male playing a game on a phoneReason #3: Global Followings

Another reason why the mobile gaming industry will continue to grow is its popularity on a global scale. In other words, mobile gaming isn’t unique to a single region. While North Americans are more likely to prefer Apple products and Asian markets are likely to gravitate toward Android devices, the top mobile games are popular worldwide. This includes titles like Coin Master, PUBG: Mobile, and Candy Crush Saga—to name just a few. With global leaderboards for many games, it’s clear that mobile gaming is a global affair.

Reason #4: Certified eSports

For the most part, modern eSports focuses on console and PC games, along with arcade fighter games. However, there are now dozens of competitions and leagues that are geared toward mobile gamers. At live events, players face off by competing from mobile devices—no computers or controllers involved.

The most popular mobile eSport games include PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, and Brawl Stars. However, while many mobile games have global followings, most of the mobile eSports action is focused in East Asia and Greater Southeast Asia.

Reason #5: Advancing Technology

Lastly, this industry will continue to grow—and evolve—thanks to the ongoing developments in mobile tech. As mobile devices become more advanced, developers are able to push new tech to its limit in order to create new entertainment experiences. Because so much research and development is happening in this sector, it will continue to attract new gamers—especially those who are looking for a new gameplay experience.

Already, advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) have led to hit titles like Pokémon GO. This game broke the mould when it was released. Many gamers are waiting to see which new release will do the same.