Life On The Small Screen: Is Mobile The Future Of eSports?

Published: Nov 16, 2015 - Last Updated: Oct 13, 2021

When thinking about eSports, or even more specifically competitive eSports, main titles that come to mind are League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter Strike: GO, among others.

Coming from this, it is hard to imagine a reality where games on mobile devices could be the future of eSports. However, according to a research by Digi-Capital, an intelligence firm, the mobile gaming market will surpass the console gaming market by 2018.

The mobile gaming market is on the rise

Mobile gaming, supported by the worldwide spread of smartphones, is slowly and surely outpacing the rest of the industry. Digi-Capital reports that spending on gaming software across all platforms will reach $88 billion this year and will grow by 8 percent annually, reaching more than $110 billion by 2018.

“Where mobile games will take $3 of every $10 spent by gamers on software in 2015, that figure will go up to $4 out of every $10 by 2018,” Digi-Capital founder and managing director Tim Merel wrote in the report, noting that the Asian market is especially strong for mobile games.

“Mobile games revenue will grow from $29 billion in 2015 to $45 billion by 2018 at 15 percent annual growth. Asia has dominated mobile games revenue since 2013, compared to both North America and Europe, and Digi-Capital forecasts Asia to take over 50 percent of all mobile games revenue in 2018.”

Currently, games like Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Game of War are dominating the mobile gaming market. Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga have cemented their place atop the grossing list on both iOS and Android since 2012, and Digi-Capital doesn’t see that changing. However, there are some new promising games making their way into the mobile gaming market that could change the picture of the industry in the future.

One of such games is Hearthstone, a simple game with low system requirements that can run on multiple platforms. The multiple-platform option makes this game very popular as players can easily shift between their PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

Compared to similar well-established titles like Magic the Gathering and Pokémon, Hearthstone has the advantage that it’s easy to enter. Both MTG and Pokémon have fairly enormous costs associated with them, while Hearthstone allows players to spend money if they choose or develop their collection through rewards obtained by playing.

How does competitive eSports fit into the picture?

The biggest names in eSports today are probably League of Legends and Dota 2, both from the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena gaming genre. Due to the heavy dependence on tactile controls, which is possible only with a mouse and keyboard, it is hard to imagine a competitive scenario with such games on a mobile device.

Nonetheless, there are developers who are already trying to overtake these giants with more mobile-friendly options.

Vainglory, a game developed by Super Evil Megacorp, is one of such examples. The game recently launched its first tournament calendar with plans to continue releasing them on a quarterly basis along with new content. The company aims for a market niche within the half-billion dollar eSports market. Even though they’re still small in comparison to their PC counterparts, Vainglory has already established a $150,000 prize pool — up from its initial pool of $30,000.

Another example is Wargaming, an international game developer and publisher, with its World of Tanks Blitz, which was among the first eSports-minded mobile games when it launched in 2013. Today the game offers daily tournaments with prizes ranging from XP boosts, to gold, to garage slots and even to physical prizes like headphones.

The company has one of the largest followings with more than 100 million registered users as of 2014.

An on-the-go future

The mobile gaming market has great potential, especially when looking at the capabilities of today’s smartphones and the amount of mobile devices out there. It is no surprise that so many developers are aiming for the mobile gaming and the competitive eSports market.

If the trend continues and developers succeed in successfully implementing mobile games into the competitive eSports industry, a shift in the eSports market could be coming up soon.

Dejan Zalik

Since: September 12, 2015

Dejan has been involved in gaming for over 10 years. Moving from classics like Diablo 2, Lineage 2, and Warcraft 3, he found his passion in Dota 2, which he’s been playing ever since. He also likes to keep up to date by reading and writing about whatever is happening in the industry.

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