The smartphone is the most widely used video game console in the world: ahead of the PS4, Xbox One, and even PCs. However, smartphone games are generally associated with casual gaming, but the eSports scene on that platform is growing by leaps and bounds.
According to a study commissioned by SafeBettingSites.com, which is considered by many to be a kind of Trustpilot of sports betting sites, eSports on the smartphone platform (basically, mobile games) generated $19.5 billion in worldwide revenue in 2019. This is a 27% increase compared to 2018, where eSports mobile games account for more than 25% of the total mobile gaming market revenue.
We are referring to competitive games, and this includes multiplayer titles as PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Mobile, and others. The exponential growth is such that the study even predicted that the eSports mobile gaming sector is set to overtake the PC gaming sector in terms of revenue not too far down the road. In 2018, eSports PC titles generated $16.1 billion in gross revenues alone.
eSports on consoles and PCs still have a long way to go
Similar trends can be observed when it comes to mobile gaming in general, compared to PC/console gaming. In France alone, the mobile ecosystem has for the first time, exceeded €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in turnover in 2019, an increase of 28%, according to the S.E.L.L. (Syndicat des éditeurs de logiciels de loisir).
The SafeBettingSites study predicts that by the end of 2020, the PC gaming market's revenue share will only be 23%, while that of console games would have grown to 31%. In contrast, games on smartphones and tablets will grow by a whopping 46%. By 2022, they will account for more than half of the gaming market's revenues.
Without making too much speculation into the matter, we can already see several signs that the eSport smartphone scene is getting more organized and consolidated. Call of Duty: Mobile has seen a world championship sponsored by Sony Xperia with a prize pool (the accumulated total of money shared by the winners) of $1 million since last July.
PUBG Mobile takes one step further and to celebrated its major September update, where the publisher will host a major tournament with a $2 million prize pool - this time with Qualcomm as an official sponsor.
Of course, we're still a long way from the $34 billion prize pool for The International on Dota 2, a PC game, that is set to be held in 2021. The main obstacle to eSports on smartphones would be the available catalog of games that are good enough for professional gaming as most smartphone games tend to target casual gamers.
Gradually moving out of this casual mobile game approach while involving players with deep enough gameplay that would push them to want to improve, become better, and therefore be more competitive is in my opinion, the major challenge for this particular platform to make its mark in the eSports arena.
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