Are Mobile Games Real?
It Depends on Who You Ask
No, this isn’t some existential quest to uncover the great mysteries of the gaming universe. It is a genuine question. A couple of weeks ago in an exchange with a reporter friend, I was asked if I knew any kids who played on teams inside mobile games like Clash of Clans, or Summoners War. I could not think of any straight away, but I said I would ask around. Among the responses,“No, I don’t, everyone I know plays real games.” It came from a smug college student. His response got me thinking, are mobile games real games from the perspective of gamers?
The First Mobile Game
Credit for the first mobile games goes to Tetris launched in 1994. A close follower, Snake, launched by Nokia in 1997; Snake can still be found on more than 350 million devices worldwide. Today, the mobile gaming industry is worth $41 billion dollars, that is more than PC and Console gaming. An impromptu poll taken from gaming message boards finds, gamers are split down the middle on this question with some of them saying, “Yes, they’re real games just in a different format,” and others calling them, “Cheap past times.” To understand this split maybe we should take a look at the overall gaming landscape.
What is a Game?
The world of gaming and eSports has evolved over the past twenty years to provide us with:
· Arcade Games
· Computer Games
· Console Games
· Handheld Games
· Mobile Games
Within these games, we have at least fifteen genres ranging from action-adventure and sports games to first person shooter and massive multiple online battle arena games. Each of these games types have an opportunity to be played competitively and earn the winning gamer ample prize money.
Three years ago, what may seem like a lifetime in the world of gaming and eSports, the company SKILLZ, introduced a tournament model for mobile gaming in which prize money ranged from as few as $1 to as much as $50,000. Today, SKILLZ connects more than 2 million mobile gamers. There is, however, a big difference between playing say a matching game like Diamond Strike and other mobile games like Clash of Clans and that’s in-game or in-app purchases.
Making Money in the World of Mobile Games
Clash of Clans is free to download and free to play. Yet, we’ve all, in some form or another heard the rumors and rumblings about the rising costs of in-app or in-game purchases. One legendary story tells of a Saudi Prince who is said to have spent more than $1 million dollars on in-app purchases to rise to the top of the Clash of Clans leader board.
While the company has long denied this rumor, the fact remains, there is no time limit to game play, and you can spend as much money as you’d like on upgrades to protect your kingdom, train your troops and wage war. It is reported, Supercell, the game makers, earns about $1.5 million in revenue per day from Clash of Clans.
It’s not just the game maker who can earn money. These days, top players can earn money by uploading their game play to YouTube and benefiting from ad click-through rates.
The Sustained Rise of Mobile Games
It is a simple truth, Mobile Games have a lower point of entry than any other gaming options. You do not have to buy a gaming PC or the latest Console to compete and engage with the gaming community.
Last year a popular mobile game, Clash Royal, had its first tournament in Helsinki. Since then 24 of the top 100 grossing Android games in China have organized regional mobile game tournaments.
It is a common theme among industry analysts that “mobile-first” countries will lead the way in establishing a place for mobile games among the top echelon of eSports, while Western markets like the United States will be slow to embrace mobile gaming.
It seems, when it comes to the validity of mobile games, we as a community have an opportunity to come together and embrace this platform as one that is increasing awareness and engagement. It is hard to dismiss mobile games as, “cheap pastimes,” when:
· For the first time, mobile games surpassed PC and Console games reaching $41 billion in market value
· 62 percent of smartphone owners install games within a week of getting the device
· There are more than 850,000 active mobile game users each month
· One-third of mobile gamers are considered “avid,” meaning they play more than nine hours a week
Event promoters are even taking notice. Last year at a premier gaming competition, organizers let competitors play use the device they were most comfortable with. The use of mobile devices, versus PCs, versus consoles made no difference in the competition. Going forward, this type of bring your own device competition model may be the norm as organizers look to streamline operations and keep costs down.