Here’s an eye-opening stat – by the end of 2023, it’s estimated that there will be more than 3.5 billion people worldwide that are classed as regular mobile gamers.
Once the preserve of the big consoles and PCs, gaming has broken free of those shackles and is now available to the vast majority of us on the move courtesy of our smartphones and tablets.
The good news is that as the tech powering our mobile devices becomes even more advanced, our gaming experience will be enhanced significantly as well.
So, what is the future for sports games like FIFA on mobile, as well as other dedicated gaming apps?
Closing the gap
We’ve already written in great detail about FIFA Mobile on this very site, outlining the big changes expected in 2022 and beyond for the EA Sports title.
The emphasis for EA is on closing the gap between console and mobile gaming, which it aims to do by creating an app that more strongly replicates the FIFA experience on PlayStation or Xbox.
A powerful new game engine is helping to make that possible, while the introduction of 60 frames per second (FPS) ensures FIFA looks fantastic and is seamless in its transitions, even when you are flying down the wing with Kylian Mbappé.
The difference between 30 FPS, which FIFA used to be, and 60 FPS is significant – and gamers will benefit from the major upgrade.
A lot of the other changes to FIFA Mobile come behind the scenes, with modifications to Ultimate Team and other game modes. But where the upgrades really count are on the pitch, and the pursuit of improving mobile gameplay to a level akin to consoles and PCs continues to gather pace.
Raising the Bar
Given that many people own a smartphone or tablet already, mobile gaming has lower barriers to entry than its console or PC counterparts, which require a high outlay just to get started.
With a captive audience already, more mobile game development firms are emerging. They can produce top-quality games in quicker time than their console-led peers, and that allows them to charge lower price. This is why titles like Call of Duty on mobile are generally monetized via in-app purchases, as opposed to exorbitant prices charged by retailers for PS5 or Xbox versions.
This is a trend that will actually help to ensure that mobile gaming continues to improve. This is a sector that needs innovative minds and new energy to continue pushing forward, and with mobile gaming typically more economically viable for developers than the major undertaking of console gaming, this is a direction that more creatives are expected to take in the years ahead.
Like all tech trends, what was once only available to the chosen few is now completely commonplace all over the globe.
Barely a decade ago, video streaming was still in its infancy – and yet here we are with companies like Netflix and Hulu that are now worth billions of dollars.
As mobile technology has improved, and internet speeds have gotten quicker, many of us have taken to streaming movies, TV shows and Twitch feeds on our smartphones and tablets – with no latency or lag, crucially.
Video streaming has changed the face of gaming in a number of sectors, not least that of online casino gaming. “Once upon a time, casino lovers only had 2D versions of roulette and blackjack to enjoy,” says Adam Nadeau, founder of casino review website Playcasinos.ca. “Now they have live-streamed action played in real time and featuring professional dealers – all from a few taps on a mobile casino app.”
Video is enhancing the gaming experience, and this is another present and future trend that will enhance the latest releases for years to come.
A new reality
Let’s face it – tech insiders have been tipping virtual reality as the next big thing for decades.
But the reason VR has never quite taken off is because the hardware is so big, cumbersome and expensive, while game developers themselves have never really explored what is possible with it.
However, Pokémon GO gave the VR/AR world a real shot in the arm back in 2016, and with new hardware being developed that is friendlier both on the wallet and the neck of the wearer, maybe now the time has finally come for virtual reality gaming.
Gamers are seeking more immersive environments to play in – a trend that could well be magnified by the metaverse revolution, should it arrive – and new wearable tech will take VR from bulky headsets to glasses and gloves, which will create a world of possibilities for improving mobile gaming.
Augmented reality, which was the driving tech behind Pokémon GO, is also expected to flourish in the years ahead, with forecasts estimating that this sector alone could be worth more than $385 billion by the end of 2023.
The future is here
Online gaming by definition needs a smooth internet connection on which it can thrive.
The switch from 4G to 5G is, therefore, likely to be a huge factor in pushing mobile gaming to whole new heights. Even on 4G, those playing FIFA, Madden and other sports-based titles will have noticed some lagging in their gaming, and it’s frustrations like that which can force some purists to put down their phones and return to their consoles.
But 5G? All bets are off, with lower latency allowing mobile apps to deliver a speed of play that is on par with console and PC gaming. The 5G network will be wider too, ensuring that more homes are able to be served with less competition for bandwidth – something that has often held 4G back.
Even though the technology is still pretty much in its infancy, most pundits agree that 5G speed and capability is improving month on month – by the close of 2023, 5G could be delivering an experience that’s as much as 100x times faster than the peak of 4G.
If that comes to pass, there’s absolutely no stopping the inexorable rise of mobile gaming apps in the future – and both sports and gaming fans will be all the better for it.