Mobile gaming is now a juggernaut branch in the gaming industry, with Newzoo reporting in April that mobile gaming will continue to grasp the largest segment with +25.5% year on year growth reaching $70.3 billion in revenue. That accounts for 42 percent of the global games market. The industry is also expected to represent more than half of the global games market in 2020. Translation: mobile gaming won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Nobody can really absolutely confirm how the mobile gaming industry will look like within the next decade. But we can make a few wild guesses and outrageous predictions. Here are our 10 predictions on how the mobile gaming industry will look like in 2028, which is 10 years from now.
1. Microtransactions run rampant
One of the most hated and often criticized aspects of the mobile gaming industry is the presence of microtransactions. Yes, microtransactions are optional. But many developers often opt to include “additional” content like cosmetic items and game-breaking power-ups as paid content when they could have included them in the base game for all users to enjoy. It feels like they are deliberately holding out just so they could earn more money. Unfortunately, it appears that microtransactions won’t be going away anytime soon.
In 10 years, microtransactions will be a fixture in almost all mobile games – paid or free – even if it doesn’t make sense for certain games to even have microtransactions. Not only that, but microtransactions will become even more ridiculous. Want to progress through the next chapter? Pay up first. Want to get the item necessary to beat a specific boss? Cough up $15. Want to get past the goddamn tutorial? Fork over $10. Don’t count on publishers and developers to have mercy on wallets.
There may have been a few numbers of controversies surrounding microtransactions recently, but it might still continue to be that persistent and unrideable trend when 2028 arrives. And you can bet games will have new and “creative” ways to implement them and get consumers to hand over cash on a regular basis. We understand game developers need to make money. But things can get unreasonable sometimes.
2. Big-name companies have entered the fray
Many PC and console game publishers and developers haven’t really fully invested in mobile gaming yet. There is only a handful who have made moves to dive into the rapidly growing industry. Two of the most notable ones are Square Enix and Nintendo. The former has released the majority of its mainline Final Fantasy titles on mobiles. The latter has released two titles based on popular intellectual properties: Super Mario Run in 2016 and Fire Emblem Heroes in 2017. Pokemon GO also makes it three, though Nintendo didn’t really have a direct hand in it yet.
Everything will change in 10 years. When 2028 rolls around, the mobile gaming market will be full of titles produced by well-known publishers and developers who are currently still debating on whether to fully commit to mobile gaming or not. Don’t be surprised to see full-fledged installments from popular franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed, God of War, and Street Fighter making an appearance on mobiles within the next decade. The mobile gaming industry is getting richer every year. Once it becomes a super-lucrative business, expect publishers to join the fray in order to have a slice of the money cake. Take a look at Epic Games’ Fortnite for example, after its release on iOS in mid-March, Sensor Tower reported that the game is making more than $1 million in a day on mobile alone. The anticipated release for Android version will surely be another success that will shake the mobile game take-up.
3. Virtual reality gaming has found a home in mobiles
Virtual reality gaming kicked into high gear with the release of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR since 2016. Many believe VR gaming is the future of video games. However, one of the biggest turn-offs about the newest trend in gaming is that it’s too expensive for casuals and regular gamers. You will need at least $500 to have a full VR gaming setup, which includes a VR headset, a few games, and either a high-powered PC or the PS4 Pro.
Due to the hardware required and the hefty amount of money needed to properly run VR games, it’s hard to envision VR gaming as the norm in the future. Well, unless someone develops a so-called “killer app” that will get everyone to buy a full VR setup. However, there’s another way for VR gaming to become a huge thing, which is through mobiles. Don’t laugh. You never know how powerful mobile devices will become in 10 years.
We predict that within the next 10 years, VR gaming will somehow find its way to mobile devices. VR gaming on-the-go is too good to pass up for developers not to consider in the near future. There are already VR headsets designed for mobiles. All we need now is a more powerful mobile hardware to run real VR games. And a fully compatible hand controller, too.
4. AR outdoor games still aren’t a huge thing
Though augmented reality on mobiles has been around for a few years, it was Pokemon GO that really brought it into the spotlight back in July 2016. The hit monster hunting game is the perfect fit for a geolocation-based AR game on mobiles. There are other mobiles out there that use both geolocation and AR. But all of them likely won’t achieve the success of Pokemon GO even if it comes from another well-established franchise.
We predict things will stay that away 10 years later. No, scratch that – we predict that augmented reality games will be basically non-existent when 2028 arrives. Except maybe Digimon, no other franchise is tailor-made for AR other than Pokemon. The Nintendo-owned franchise will have a monopoly on the AR market, discouraging developers from creating other AR games for mobiles. Sure, Pokemon GO has a high chance of dying out in a year or two unless Niantic makes dramatic improvements. But who’s saying The Pokemon Company won’t roll out another similar Pokemon game when that happens?
Another reason AR outdoor games won’t really become a huge genre is not everyone gets excited about going outside just to play video games. Video games have always been meant to be enjoyed indoors. And let’s face it, playing video games outside isn’t exactly the safest in many countries.
5. E3 has dedicated conferences for mobile games
There were times where mobile gaming was often seen as the outsider in the gaming industry, which is understandable considering it hasn’t been around that long enough to be lumped together with PC and console gaming. But based on how mobile gaming continues to grow every year, it isn’t far-fetched to see it finally gets the proper recognition within the next 10 years. No, we’re not talking about awards or accolades and other similar effects. We’re talking about mobile gaming having a dedicated conference at the annual E3 event.
Getting an invitation to showcase upcoming titles in the biggest gaming event of the year will be the ultimate form of acceptance in the mobile gaming industry. Who gets to present during the event is another story, though. Most likely, big-name companies financially capable of producing multiple titles in a single year such as Gameloft, Supercell, and King will get the invite. But don’t count out the possibility of a separate conference for indie developers, who play a critical role in making the mobile gaming industry run the way it currently does.
6. Mobile gaming has a huge eSports scene
Over the last few years, eSports has steadily become a huge part of gaming, with sponsored tournaments handing out thousands of dollars to winners. Mobile gaming also has an eSports scene, most notably in the MOBA genre. Though it’s not yet a juggernaut compared to the e-sports scene in PC and console gaming. However, it’s not hard to see that within the next 10 years it will have a truly formidable eSports scene capable of awarding winners with unbelievable amounts of money. There’s no telling yet which genre will lead the way. But MOBA, first-person shooters, and sports simulation games are good bets.
7. App stores have cut down on “clone apps”
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a developer in the mobile gaming industry is that there are lots of competition in the market. Mobile games are everywhere. Making a game stand out in app stores is a real challenge, especially with all the so-called clone apps scattered in every corner. Clone apps are cheap rip-offs of popular apps or games. They are created by developers hoping to piggyback on the success of another app. Sadly, both Google Play and the Apple App Store aren’t doing a good enough job in filtering out these clone apps.
But that will change within the next 10 years. By 2028, all app stores will have a very low number of clone apps, shrinking the market and making it easier for honest developers to market their apps. To filter out all the cheap clone apps, both Google and Apple will place all incoming apps under heavy scrutiny first before being approved to appear on the app store. Having a more focused market with nothing but high-quality apps also improves the overall reputation of the mobile gaming industry, which is currently full of embarrassing rip-offs and cheaply done apps.
8. Mobile games have near console-like quality
One of the most common criticisms thrown at mobile games is that they are nowhere near the quality of console games. This is totally unfair. First of all, mobile games specifically target the casual crowd. They are meant to be easy to pick up and much smaller in terms of content. And second, mobile devices come with different hardware. They are built to function as ultra-portable all-around machines, unlike dedicated gaming consoles. It’s unfair to compare mobile games side-by-side with console games.
Well, at least for now. Because within the next 10 years, mobile devices will have a more powerful hardware, capable of running console-level games. It’s not crazy to imagine something like that, considering how mobile technology continues to advance. It seems like every year a new smartphone or tablet with more beefed-up hardware arrives. Heck, there are already a number of mobile games out in the market which can pass off as a console game. When the necessary hardware becomes available, it will be up to developers to make full use of it to produce console-level games. And when that happens, the mobile gaming industry will no longer be ridiculed for having cartoonish and childish games.
Established companies like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Square Enix will likely be the first ones to roll out full-fledged mobile games with the same quality as console games. Why? Well, they have the money to spend on huge development teams. Console-level mobile games won’t be cheap to produce.
9. Mobiles can run recent-gen console games
This is related to the above prediction. At the moment, mobile devices are well-capable of running ports of games originally released on older consoles. Among the most notable ports include Final Fantasy IX, Tomb Raider, and Borderlands. The only thing holding back mobile devices from being able to run ports of games from more recent consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One is the lack of the proper hardware and software. That will change within the next decade when mobile devices will be packed with more power.
As mentioned above, mobile devices improve every year. 10 years from now mobile devices will be able to run ports of more sophisticated games from recent consoles, which should be good news for people who missed out on playing them when they were originally released. Of course, everything still depends on publishers whether games actually get ported to mobiles or not. But big-name developers have already shown that they are willing to bring older games to mobiles. So it’s not impossible for them to continue doing so in the coming years. Imagine being able to play games like Persona 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy XV on mobiles. Awesome, right?
10. Season Passes crash the party
Seasons Passes are one of the most frowned upon practices in the PC and console gaming scene. For the uninitiated, Season Passes are basically pre-orders to upcoming to downloadable content. By coughing up additional money, you will get access to unknown future content. You can only hope the developers will make the extra money worth it with awesome content. If things turn out to be crap, you can’t do anything about it. Due to the presence of microtransactions and the fact that most mobile games are free-to-play, Season Passes don’t have a place in mobile gaming. But don’t underestimate publishers and developers when it comes to squeezing out money. Season Passes will surely find its way to mobile gaming within the next 10 years.
And there you have it. These are our predictions for the mobile gaming industry within the next decade. Many of these may seem ridiculous at the moment. But anything can happen in 10 years. Who knows, maybe the majority of these predictions might turn out to be true.