The mobile gaming industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade; starting with the launch of the iPhone in 2007. The accessibility, reach and ubiquity of the mobile platform still converts a large portion of the world’s human population into gamers. This has now been further catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic which has driven the growth of digital payment platforms, especially in Asian countries.
The games respond to deep intrinsic human motivations of relationship, autonomy and mastery and thus appeal to a wide range of audiences. Here are some of the numbers that describe this growth.
The chart above shows that the mobile games market is steadily climbing to $120 billion.
The mobile gaming industry’s player base stands at 2.69 billion, or about 34% of the world’s population. Let’s review Sensor Tower’s growth forecast for mobile downloads and revenue alone. Downloads are expected to increase from 57B to 75B over the next 5 years.
Revenues are expected to grow from $72 billion to $98 billion over the next 5 years
If we look at the games industry across all channels – mobile, PC and console, the size of the games industry is larger than all other media categories combined.
Moreover, if we add various game hardware and game software, the size is more than 2X of all categories combined
Channels such as AR/VR, Streaming, Crypto, Esports will further accelerate the growth of this industry in the coming years. In fact, gaming is at the forefront and can directly benefit from multiple technological advancements such as 5G, AI, HTML5, high-end mobile hardware, NFTs, AR/VR, machine learning and cloud native technology.
Let’s explore each of these technological advancements in a little more detail to see the long-term impact they would have on the gaming industry.
With the advent of 5G streaming, internet speeds could reach several 100 Gbps from the few 100 Mbps we are seeing now. This would lead to multiple benefits in terms of player experiences.
The first being a lot more large scale multiplayer and social games running smoother. Social and multiplayer are some of the biggest drivers of retention in games and it’s great that these advancements in technology are helping to improve that.
Esports is another area that will benefit. In Esports, players compete over a live multiplayer network. Higher net speeds would mean that more data could be transmitted from player to player, allowing for more live multiplayer games in real time.
The second being that the games themselves could potentially be released on platforms to allow them to be played without having to be installed locally. This could lead to a proliferation of console titles on low-end devices such as mobiles.
AI and machine learning
We are seeing a lot of advances in AI with new frameworks like Tensorflow and other high-end deep learning frameworks. While AI isn’t as widely used in games today, in the years to come we could see content generation pipelines being pushed out of AI frameworks. AI could also be part of reinforcement learning in the game’s AI agents to drive more emergent gameplay.
Content created by AI could be the foundation for vast worlds that make up what is known as the metaverse.
Games also rely heavily on data analysis to determine the success or failure of individual game features. Data analytics can also be used to personalize and create an experience highly tailored to end-user needs. As data analysis systems advance in terms of hardware and software, the iteration time on these systems will decrease rapidly.
Additionally, machine learning algorithms can help generate predictions in terms of the likelihood of predicting a player action and these can be used to drive incrementally higher revenue and engagement on mobile apps.
Superior mobile material
Mobile hardware is increasingly advanced with multiple cores and faster GPUs. This led to the emergence of multi-threaded rendering and processing on both the game engine and the GPU side.
Frameworks like Vulkan on iOS use multiple cores and speed up rendering. On the other hand, Unity builds frameworks like Job Scheduling and DOTS framework for faster multi-core processing. Fast rendering would bring higher quality, console-looking titles, especially realistic titles becoming more common on mobile devices.
Vulkan Ray Tracing https://www.displaydaily.com/article/display-daily/the-vr-ar-market-growth-i-am-still-not-convinced
NFT and Blockchain Based Games
NFT is an interesting technology where digital ownership of goods can be integrated into a blockchain. Some of the direct benefits of this include greater asset liquidity beyond the limits of the game the player is playing.
This concept applies directly to games, as unique items can be assigned to ownership and traded between players and beyond the game’s ecosystem to generate greater value for the game.
Some games have gone deeper into the game to win a model where people can participate in battles and the winners can keep the earned tokens.
Blockchain based gaming is one specific area where we will see a lot more players in the next few years.
The games depend on several services for their operation. These include basic services such as authentication, storage, messaging as well as services such as ranking, guild, search and more.
With the advent of cloud-native and container technologies like Kubernetes, the time to develop, iterate, experiment, and deploy on these platforms is rapidly decreasing. This will allow game teams to iterate faster and build truly cloud-native products.
The diversity of technologies used in Zynga for the backend is also very high – Realtime games on the Zynga infrastructure use UDP technologies for multiplayer, some of the latest services use Golang and Nakama, from a storage perspective we have a diverse storage stack ranging from Redis, Aurora, DynamoDB, RDS, S3, Couchbase and more.
Zynga also uses cloud-native technologies such as Hashicorp products that allow us to control cloud infrastructure versions, which could potentially help to deploy to clouds in the future.
With organizations like the Cloud Native Computing Foundation leading the charter for the next set of cloud-native products, it’s that much easier for gaming companies to choose some of the best technologies for rapid iteration, stability, and reliability. effectiveness of their backend technology stack.
HTML 5 and instant games
HTML 5 appeared on the web as a replacement for Flash. However, the ubiquity of HTML5 means games could exist on platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Zoom. There are other platforms where we might see games emerge in the future, for example other chat platforms where migration.
Another unique aspect of these games is that they are extremely lightweight and have low loading time and low installation time as the download size is also reduced. This increases their accessibility, but their discoverability may be lower than that of apps on the App Store.
AR and VR lead to the rise of another unique new immersive experience for gamers. While it may not be ready for the mass market in 2021 yet, we can see more evolution in technology over time and we can expect that soon we will have a time when there could be have many more users than today who adopt these technologies.
AR mode in CSR2, for example, lets you place the model of the car in the real world to show off to your friends.
As we see, there are many technology trends contributing to the growth of the mobile gaming industry. We also see that gaming is one of the first areas where many technology trends are experimented with before they become mainstream with a wider audience, even in non-gaming areas. This provides engineers with the opportunity to working on some of the latest tech trends and contributing to real-world consumer apps that are directly used by millions of gamers. Gaming applications are all set to grow over the next decade on the latest platforms and technological frontiers.
Senior Director of Engineering