According to Next Games’ annual report, the global games market grew 9.3 per cent in 2020 as it generated $159.3 billion.
More specifically, the largest contributor was smartphones, as the platform grossed $63.6 billion last year, growing 15.8 per cent year on year.
Moreover, Tablets reached $13.7 billion, a growth rate of 2.7 per cent. Combined, the mobile devices brought in $77.3 billion.
“The mobile games market is undergoing a transformation, the market is maturing, and the amount of new games published is decreasing,” reads the report.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought changes and imposed severe economic constraints on millions of consumers: 39 per cent of US consumers reported a decrease in their household income since the pandemic began.
“Still, spending in mobile games increased despite the decline in household income. The mobile games industry broke its estimated 68.2 billion in revenues and generated 77.2 billion in 2020, equivalent to a 13.3 per cent growth from 2019.”
The second top-grossing platform was console with $45.2 billion, while PC and browser games generated $33.9 billion and $3 billion, respectively – the latter decreasing 13.4 per cent year-on-year.
Last year, the coronavirus swept the globe, bringing about a global pandemic, one that forced many people to isolate themselves in their homes.
As a result, there was not only a loss of income but a newfound need to find sources of entertainment. Naturally, games, particularly mobile, proved to be a popular choice.
Since March 2020, there have been 28 million new gamers in the US, a growth rate of 28 per cent. Meanwhile, at a staggering 50 per cent increase, there are 8.6 million new players in the UK.
South Korea has experienced an influx of gamers with a rise of 34 per cent, or rather 9.4 million individuals. Furthermore, many citizens in Germany also turned to games to entertain themselves, as it saw 6.5 million new players, an increase of 25 per cent.
“As much as 65 per cent said they’re comfortable watching ads to eliminate or reduce subscription costs,” the report reads.
“Yet, spending increased not decreased in mobile gaming. The predominant benefit in a free-to-play model during the pandemic is the player’s choice of pace to consume content and spend money.
“The necessity to meet player needs by tailoring purchasing experiences will continue as a major benefit in the free-to-play model.”
Once the pandemic has passed, it is believed that revenues will continue to rise. This year alone, the global games industry, made up of 2.8 billion players, is expected to reach $189.3 billion in revenue.
Furthermore, given lockdown restrictions have prevented many from seeing friends and family, people have turned to games as a virtual means of social interaction.
As such several companies and artists formed partnerships to create new virtual experiences for gamers.
However, it was not just Epic that spotted a market opportunity, as Roblox held a viewing party for Ava Max upon the release of her new album.
We are equal
Another industry change that New Games predicts is better inclusion and equality. Last year, two key movements took place – #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter.
The former of the two, me too, was centred on allegations of abuse and sexual harassment within the workplace. Predominantly, women were subjected to misconduct.
One such company to come under scrutiny for inappropriate behaviour in the workplace was Ubisoft. The French publishing giant lost numerous high profile employees due to harassment allegations.
It was also found that around 25 per cent of those employed by Ubisoft had been subjected to misconduct.
The second movement, Black Lives Matter, occurred following the death of George Floyd due to police brutality.
At the time, a number of major games firms such as Supercell, Sony, Electronic Arts, Marvel Entertainment and more openly supported the movement.
BLM brought about some key concerns within the games industry, and that is the lack of inclusivity. However, some companies have since committed to change, promising more diversity and equality.
Niantic is one such firm, as not only will it continue to support a range of charities, but it will make several company changes, including the addition of a diversity and inclusion training programme.
It would appear as though Epic Games may have started a trend as Next Games believes that app store distribution will face multiple challenges from all sides.
Last year, the Fortnite creator stood up and challenged the monopoly on mobile storefronts after it sued both Apple and Google.
The lawsuits were raised after Fortnite was removed from the App Store and Google Play, following Epic introducing a new payment option, one that would prevent the tech behemoths from taking their 30 per cent commission.
Since August 2020, Epic has launched several lawsuits against the pair in various countries, including the US, the UK and Australia.
Moreover, the games giant has insisted that it “is not seeking damages from Google or Apple, it is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers.”
Finally, like many others, Next Games has predicted that the IDFA changes from Apple will have a profound effect on mobile marketing.
Rolling out its privacy changes in “early spring,” Apple will force apps to acquire user permission before tracking them.
Facebook is one of several companies that has taken issue with changes, as it has insisted its advertising tools will become near useless.
“IDFA is a user-specific information that enables advertising services, such as Facebook, to allow advertisers to precisely target ads,” the report reads.
“Apple’s IDFA deprecation has the potential to disrupt app publishers’ ability to market themselves effectively and monetize through advertising.”
Due to the changes, it may be safe to assume that there will be a lower spend on user acquisition in the short-term across iOS devices.