Despite a slow start, mobiles have enjoyed a rapid and massive expansion into the worlds of gambling and traditional video games. Yet many early speculators considered mobile’s entry into these realms with nothing but derision. So how much are these markets worth today, and what it is that made the handheld avenue such a popular one?
As of 2019, the global video game market was worth just under $152 billion. Of this, 54% came from the mobile games market, 21% from PCs, and 23% from consoles. In the same year, the online gambling market was worth just shy of $60 billion. Of these transactions, 70% were made from mobile devices.
These aren’t isolated instances either, with upwards trends mapped out in both of these arms of the entertainment industry for at least a decade prior.
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So how did they come so far? For both gambling and gaming, the biggest answer to this question comes from the ubiquity of mobile devices. These are now cheap, available everywhere, and are practically essential devices to the lives of adults the world over.
In terms of video gaming, this is not a market share any other option could hope to approach. Console gaming is massively expensive compared to what is available over mobiles. PC gaming has a similar issue, with a wide price gap existing between a standard computer and a gaming desktop. This doesn’t only apply to the systems either, as the games on mobiles are also almost universally much cheaper than their counterparts. Mobiles also have a significant free-to-play selection of games, and while consoles and PCs also have many in this form, they still cannot hope to measure up to what mobiles offer.
Online casino games similarly benefit from being cheaper and more plentiful, but they also derive their success through how well their game experiences translate. Take the best online bingo games for example. These cover a huge range of different gambling subtypes and play as well on mobiles as they do on PC. While video games can suffer cramped controls and display issues on mobiles, online casino games rarely do, making them that much better suited to a home on a mobile screen.
Casino games also succeed through how well they perform on the online front. Unlike most traditional video games, mobile casino games do not require split-second reactions, making them a much more reliable form of on-the-go online gaming when connections do slow.
“WiFi symbol” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Christiaan Colen
The final part of this equation comes from the fact that people are increasingly turning to mobiles as their digital device of choice. While it used to be that PCs were the default when it came to online engagement, mobiles are quickly usurping that position. This is perhaps unsurprising, as mobiles can now do almost anything a PC can do, and from almost anywhere. No longer are internet users confined a specific spot, and no longer are mobile users given a watered-down version of the online experience.
Given these trends, it is very likely that mobile’s takeover of gaming and gambling will only continue to grow well into the 2020s. While there will undoubtedly always be a place for console and PCs in gaming and gambling, it appears their time at the head of the pack could firmly remain a relic of the past.