As eSports continues to gain traction – and attract new players as well as support from mainstream outlets – its future as an arm of gaming is being considered. One of the major considerations is to whether eSports competitions will be played on devices that aren’t PCs, such as through smartphone apps. We’ve seen a move towards mobile in other industries – could apps be instrumental in the future of the big eSports competitions?
Mobile Gaming Engagement Growth
Mobile gaming accounts for more than half of all gaming revenue – a statistic that continues to grow annually. Not only do players seem to prefer the ease of engagement and the mode of play that mobile offers, but developers are tailoring their output for these players. A benefit is that mobiles are readily available for most people, so new players can be better targeted than those who might be new to expensive PC or console gaming.
The move from PC to mobile devices has been seen throughout gaming. Traditional PC games, such as Minecraft, have found audiences on mobile with a slightly altered gameplay style. Multiplayer battle-royale games such as Fortnite migrated to mobile and took advantage of the strength of the smartphone’s processing power. Even the online casino industry has adapted to players who want to engage on mobile devices. As the Betsson casino app for Android shows, their popular slot games, table games, and sportsbook can be accessed on smartphones. This is a response to the fact that smartphones are becoming the seminal entertainment device.
The Future of eSports: PC vs Mobile
But as eSports are played primarily on PC, could the growth of mobile and apps lead to eSports competitions being played on smartphones? eSports tournaments could want to appeal to more in the mainstream, who are already smartphone gamers. The monetization options and the penetration rate of these players are also more promising on smartphones. Some countries, as can be seen with the King Pro League in China, have already experienced huge growth for mobile versions of an eSports tournament. So, this could be a trend seen throughout the western world of eSports, too.
However, while the smartphone is gaining popularity, PC gaming revenue continues to hold steady. With 1.3 billion players worldwide, the revenue is expected to grow by nearly 5% year on year. This would result in approximately $36.9 billion in revenue. Even if smartphones unveiled the ultimate gaming experiences, diehard PC fans won’t be swayed. The gaming experience on a PC is different, and especially for eSports, represents the kind of strategic longer gaming experiences that its players enjoy. PC gaming is also more conducive to streaming, such as on Twitch, which is critical for eSports players.
Smartphones may have seen a huge rise in engagement and growth in revenue. But there is evidence that they are not taking players and opportunities from other parts of gaming – just turning non-gamers into gamers with a console they already own (their phones). PC gaming and console gaming will still continue to rise too, albeit not as much. So, while eSports may have gained engagement on mobile devices, major tournaments could still comfortably be played on PC.