Mobile gaming really took off in the late 2000s and early 2010s with the proliferation of smartphones and the evolution of mobile networks. However, playing games on the go has been around a lot longer. Less powerful devices have been around since the early 1980s, although most had only one game.
Nintendo revolutionized the market with its Game Boy in 1989, which it followed up with the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. This last device was key in bringing handheld gaming to the masses, with products that appealed to much broader audiences than traditional video games.
This trend continued once games companies began developing apps for smartphones, with games like Farmville, Candy Crush and Plants vs Zombies that fit into the new casual gaming market. These very quickly developed into household brands with millions of players worldwide.
These games and many others have been evolving rapidly over the last decade, creating new trends in the industry, with newer versions looking radically different to their early versions.
So what trends can we expect from mobile gaming in 2020?
We saw cross platform play added to Fortnite in 2019. This allowed (with some exceptions) players of the game on consoles, PC, and mobile devices to play together from whichever device they wanted. Although it is revolutionary for third-person shooters (or first-person shooters for that matter), true cross platform play has been around for online games for some time.
iGaming platforms have been offering customers to play on the go with apps that are optimized for the smaller form factor. Through these apps, players have been able to go up against competitors in games like blackjack, roulette and poker using both mobile and PC platforms for many years.
It’s likely that we will see cross platform features added to more games throughout 2020. Being able to play with your friends while you’re away from your console or PC is a feature that gamers have wanted for years.
Loot boxes have received a lot of attention in recent years, with many criticizing them for making it easy for people to accidentally spend $1,000s. They are used in most modern video games, including FIFA Football and Overwatch, as well as mobile games like Candy Crush.
Belgium recently banned the sale (with real money) of loot boxes which give random in-game items.
The ban was widely supported, even among gamers, and other territories are expected to follow suit over the coming years.
It won’t be the end of microtransactions though. People will still be able to buy more lives, tokens, coins, chips, weapons, character upgrades and maps.
Big Franchises Heading to Mobile
Many big titles that we have previously seen only on consoles and PC are expected to turn their attention to the mobile market in 2020. In 2019, Call of Duty: Mobile was launched, with many commentators surprised at how similar the gaming experience was when playing on a smartphone compared to a console.
Titles that are expected to be released to mobile in 2020 include Forza Street, Project Cars Go, and League of Legends.
New Monetization Methods
Video game developers have been trying to find new ways to monetize their work for many years. The rise of microtransactions came about as a result of consumers not always being prepared to pay large sums of money up front for a game. There are also higher costs of developing modern games due to their complexity, meaning new revenue sources need to be found.
Apple announced last year that it was launching a subscription gaming service called Apple Arcade. Users pay a monthly fee to access the games in its library, which are free from all forms of microtransactions.
Developers will be looking to see how successful Apple Arcade is, and similar services may also appear later in the year.
2020 promises to be an exciting year for mobile gaming. The experience will be better than ever before as major titles enter the market and gamers get the opportunity to play against their friends on other platforms.
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