Since most folks claim that they play to “pass the time,” mobile has a clear advantage over TV: we can take our phones and tablets anywhere. And while not everybody might have access to a PC or a console, all gamers are likely to have a mobile phone.
Mobile’s high penetration rate and portability, therefore, have set it up to dominate the future of gaming. Indeed, games and esports analytics and market research company Newzoo found that mobile revenues accounted for more than 50 percent ($70.3 billion) of the $137.9 billion global games market in 2018.
And while consoles were the fastest-growing segment in the gaming industry in 2019, mobile gaming remained the largest segment. Nielsen’s SuperData Research estimated that mobile games generated $64.4 billion in 2019, which accounted for close to 60 percent of the video game industry’s total revenue that year.
It is indisputable, then, that mobile gaming is a strong contender in the video game industry. Fortnite and Dungeon Fighter Online, for instance, made $1.8 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively, in 2019 alone. So, why and how do we know that mobile gaming is going to be the future of gaming in Africa?
The increasing rate of smartphone adoption
A 2016 GSMA Intelligence report revealed that falling device prices have been key to the rapid adoption of smartphones in Africa. While only 4 percent of connections in Africa were smartphones in 2010, 2015 had seen a jump to 23 percent, with 2020 expected to realize a boost to 57 percent.
In fact, the number of mobile subscriptions in Kenya, for instance, rose from 55 million in the January – March period this year to 57 million in the April – June period. Additionally, internet data subscriptions in the two periods went up from 39 million to 41 million, indicating an increased appetite for online services.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report by GSMA estimates that 475 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will be mobile internet users by 2025, with 27 percent of these connections being on 4G and 3 percent on 5G.
As the proportion of the population without a smartphone gets smaller and smaller, gaming developers will have an increased chance to reach out to players who the big game developers – those targeting PCs and consoles, might never be able to appeal to.
Cloud gaming, also known as gaming-as-a-service
The evolution of the cloud gaming solution means that members of the gaming community don’t have to worry about space to download a heavy game or even the logistics of tugging along a console or a massive gaming computer to wherever it is they need to play their games from.
How? Because cloud gaming ensures that games can be loaded from a remote server and then run over the internet as opposed to a device’s central processing unit (CPU) or random access memory (RAM). This service does, however, require high internet speeds with low latency, which means it is most compatible with 5G – which is just now rolling out in select African and global markets.
And as mobile device manufacturers improve graphics and processor options to ensure phones can deliver smooth and crisp gameplay, gaming developers such as Usiku.Games are providing a rich variety of online games that only require access to their website for gaming enthusiasts to enjoy.
The increasing sophistication of mobile games
There is a widespread notion that mobile gaming typically involves micro-transaction cooldown games. Here, the player waits for ‘energy’ or ‘lives’ to be replenished to be able to play the next round or otherwise plays basic puzzlers on his or her device. But with the advent of cloud gaming and even smartphones geared for gaming, more sophisticated mobile games have steadily increased in the market.
Additionally, some gaming developers are remaking some of the mainstream classic games such as Dungeon Keeper and Call of Duty, so that they are now available to play on mobile. The availability of these games on mobile helps to not only recapture some of the love from their old fans but also appeal to new demographics.
With more and more Africans using their phones for everyday use – and with games being developed for every age bracket and hobby, it comes as no surprise that mobile gaming is truly the future of gaming in the continent.