Let’s fire mobile games into the stratosphere with NFTs, blockchain, and battle royale
The future of mobile games will be tied closely to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – the trick is knowing when to ‘HODL’.
When it comes to games, developers and players alike are always eager to share their opinions on trends for the coming year and how they will shape the future of the industry.
We’ll soon be at the end of 2019 – what will the next 12 months have in store?
Mobile games will rise to $91.2 billion in 2021
First, let’s take a look back. According to Newzoo, the global games market is worth $134.9 billion. Mobile games accounted for 47% of that, at $63.2 billion. For someone who was around in the earliest days of Java-based mobile games, that’s an amazing statistic.
And it gets better – the same research predicts the mobile games market will rise to $91.2 billion in 2021.
To put it in real terms, mobile gaming revenue has surpassed worldwide tea sales, music sales, McDonald’s revenue, and worldwide box office revenue, and is almost as high as the GDP of the entire country of Costa Rica.
Most importantly, it’s clear we’re still experiencing serious growth in a sector that’s now around 20 years old.
This kind of growth is music to the ears of mobile game developers and publishers. It means they can take bigger chances and, hopefully, generate stronger results commercially. By tapping into emerging technologies – such as AR – and using new forms of payment – such as cryptocurrency – the mobile games industry can harness the best practices and the latest trends across the board and combine them to create new experiences for gamers.
Mobile games also hold strong in part due to our lifestyles. We’re spending more time on our smartphones and more time waiting around and commuting, needing a quick fix for downtime. Of course, we do see some longer form gaming on mobile, but most of it is designed to fill the gaps throughout the day – it’s that aim that lends mobile such powerful addictive gameplay.
Indeed, apps account for 90% of time spent on smartphones, with 75% of app revenue coming from games. We’re hooked.
And we’re also a diverse bunch: 51% of mobile gamers are female, according to data from Betting on Billions.
Mobile gaming in itself is a viable alternative to console platforms, which in turn forces other handheld gaming platforms to up their game, as Nintendo has done with Switch Lite. This healthy competition creates a great environment for the industry as a whole to grow and develop exponentially.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that mobile games are not a Western phenomenon – Asia Pacific accounts for more than half of mobile games revenue, with 25% of total spending in China.
So we’re in good shape in 2019, but where do we go next? What will provide mobile games with the fuel for its next growth curve?
It can be difficult to anticipate whether fans will appreciate the latest creative and technical ideas or whether they will fail to take hold, but I think there are three key areas for 2020.
Blockchain, NFTs, and battle royale
There is nothing new about battle royale-style multiplayer gaming, but Epic’s Fortnite really smashed its way into the arena and made the format its own.
Between June 2018 and March 2019, 125 million new players registered to play the game, putting the total at nearly 250 million. Unsurprisingly, more mobile games studios are focusing on the battle royale concept – the games are relatively easy to make and are likewise easy to engage with for fans.
Many retailers, franchises, and brands are now exploring how they can add a battle royale element to their own marketing strategy, exploiting the Fortnite madness. The numbers are huge if we get it right: Fortnite hit 100 million downloads in just 138 days, according to Apptopia. We’re going to see lots more battle royale.
Meanwhile, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been one of the hottest things this year if you follow blockchain, a technology that has the potential to radically alter the future of games. Take Fortnite as an example. Epic has made more than $1 billion in revenue selling weapons, skins, and accessories, but guess what? The players don’t really own the assets they have bought. What they buy in the game stays in the game.
What blockchain technology gives us is the possibility to register the ownership of a digital asset and for the player to have complete control of it. We see different games being released that use this model, for example Reality Clash, which is a GPS-location-based AR mobile game. The game’s marketplace has sold more than 7,000 weapons to players, all of which are registered on the blockchain with unique serial numbers and gaming stats.
Blockchain can tie the latest gameplay stats to an in-game digital asset (such as a weapon), like kills and headshots, making it rare and potentially more valuable than when originally purchased. There is suddenly profit for players to make on their digital assets. NFTs represent a new $100 billion market that is growing rapidly.
So get ready to HODL. It means Hold On for Dear Life – a phrase that has entered crypto and blockchain parlance as a common misspelling of ‘Hold’ when referring to trading currencies.
We’re in for an exciting ride.
Co-founder of Reality Gaming Group