Mobile Gaming Power-Ups: Which Multiplayer Game’s Mobile Release Had the Most Impact?
Gaming continues to grow and grow, with mobile gaming playing a massive part. If we look at the overall global gaming market, there were over 2 billion players in 2022 – with that number predicted to almost double to 3.5 billion by 2025.
Mobile gaming’s part in this is huge. Across the past year, there has been a worldwide growth in both the number of new game downloads and the average time gaming on mobile devices daily. On average, mobile gamers are spending a third of their waking time spent on their device – up to five hours per day.
While the average age of a mobile gamer is 36, it would be unwise to discount the huge rise in children who game. According to research*, 91% of children aged three to 15 played some kind of online game in 2022, with the age group that gamed the most being those within the 12 to 15 bracket.
Smart video game developers jumped on mobile early into their games’ releases – with the likes of Fortnite getting a mobile version within months of the game’s initial deployment – while other developers realised their games could work well in a mobile environment and chose to adopt the platform as an option. But how has the release of a mobile version impacted the user base of games? Does mobile gaming make heading into a fantasy world more accessible, or do gamers tend not to take up the opportunity when the game is available on stronger devices? Read on to find out more.
Which type of games lend themselves to mobile gaming?
There is an array of gaming delights available on both the Apple Arcade and Android’s Google Play Store, enticing new and experienced gamers alike to tap the download button and, eventually, at the hope of the developers, sink tens, if not hundreds of hours into their creations.
Certain genres are bound to perform better than others on a mobile device, and across different demographics. Hypercasual games, those easy-to-start and fun-to-play options that are often choc-full of ads, dominated 2022’s download statistics** – with almost 1 billion more downloads than the next most popular genre. Puzzle and match games proved popular too, while RPG games which likely require a lot of concentration had fewer downloads (while still achieving hundreds of millions).
RPG games, however, topped the charts when it came to revenue in 2022. Microtransactions for new in-game cosmetic items or XP boosts helped the genre amass over £20 billion. Puzzle games, likely through offering extra lives or level skips, also proved to be great money makers for their developers.
Which games saw the biggest impact from a mobile release?
While blockbuster games like Among Us, which went viral during the pandemic, were mobile-first, there are a range of games that saw benefits following the release of a mobile version of a game otherwise available on consoles or PC.
We’ve delved into a selection of games that were ported for mobile devices – rather than brands that have made a mobile-only game off the back of a popular title (looking at you, Call of Duty). We wanted to see how the release of a mobile version impacted the user base, as well as how popular these games are in 2023.
231,081,822 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version released in September 2017. Approximately 30,000,000 players at the end of 2017, compared to approximately 200,000,000 players at the end of the following year. This is a percentage increase of 6566.6%.
The hype for Fortnite has returned in the last couple of days, with the latest update providing a nostalgia hit for players, streamers and professionals alike. The ‘Fortnite OG’ update has reverted the maps, weapons and more back to how the game was during the year of its release. The game broke records by housing 44.7 million players in just one day.
Fortnite’s growth following the release of its mobile version cannot be attributed to it, however. The free Epic Games offering was already on a huge incline in popularity, and paired with celebrity endorsements, live events and the popularity of streamers like Ninja, the game blew up. Mobile made the game more accessible and will have contributed to the game’s growth, but we just can’t attribute it all to one event.
Old School RuneScape
1,611,343 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version was released in October 2018. Approximately 1,448,760 players at the end of 2018, compared to approximately 2,164,635 at the end of the following year. This is a percentage increase of 49.41%.
Most games have events that help to bring players back to the game or entice new ones in. Old School RuneScape is no different. Despite being a game that’s more than 20 years old, regular tournaments like ‘Deadman Mode’, fun game modes like ‘Leagues’, and a slew of consistent updates and new content keep bringing players to the shores of the mythical land of Gielinor.
A year after the release of Old School RuneScape Mobile, the game had seen an increase of well over half a million more players. The game’s more relaxed pieces of content, like training skills such as woodcutting, lend themselves well to mobile gaming and gaming on the go.
4,972,379 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version was released in December 2014. Approximately 22,038,119 players at the end of 2014, compared to approximately 40,102,000 by the end of 2015. This is a percentage increase of 81.96%.
Hearthstone entered the Digital Collectible Card Game market with a bang and proved to be another success for developer Blizzard Entertainment – despite the game being very much an experimental piece of work from a smaller design team.
The game was a perfect choice for a mobile port, and crossplay across both Apple, Android and Microsoft Windows allows for seamless competitive play across the world. It’s only natural that being able to play a game of Hearthstone while out of the house had a positive impact on the number of players.
200,759,072 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version was released in December 2014. Approximately 75,524,119 players at the end of 2014, compared to approximately 103,531,537 by the end of 2015. This is a percentage increase of 37.08%.
Another veteran of the gaming industry, Roblox has been around since 2006 and has grown year on year since. Most of the game’s growth has come following the release of its mobile version, in the latter half of the 2010s.
While Roblox’s “blow up” came during the pandemic, it had amassed a huge following before this – and the ability to enjoy the game on a mobile device or tablet helped it on its way.
6,075,821 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version was released in August 2020. Approximately 42,120,394 players at the end of 2020, compared to approximately 61,403,023 by the end of 2021. This is a percentage increase of 45.7%.
This super-fun fighting game similar to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. gained a huge following when it was released on Windows, Mac and PlayStation 4. Three years later a mobile port to Android and iOS came, helping the game to blow up once more.
Brawlhalla staggered its ports, releasing on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch before opting for a release on iOS and Android. Crossplay across all platforms helped the game continue to grow, but the mobile addition definitely pushed the player base higher.
3,474,389 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version released in March 2020. Approximately 9,732,004 players at the end of 2020, compared to approximately 7,082,529 by the end of 2021. This is a percentage decrease of 27.2%.
Teamfight Tactics is a game from the brainchild of League of Legends creator Riot Games. As an auto-battler, or auto-chess, players build a team to fight and compete to be the last player standing out of several competitors.
The mobile version of the game was released at the start of the first UK COVID-19 lockdowns and would have benefited from many gamers being at home with a lot of free time. A year later, unfortunately, the player base had dropped – likely because of the timing of the mobile version’s release.
Magic The Gathering: Arena
5,135,205 players in the last 30 days.
Mobile version released in March 2021. Approximately 5,589,503 players at the end of 2021, compared to approximately 6,780,544 by the end of 2022. This is a percentage increase of 21.3%.
Much like Hearthstone, Magic The Gathering: Arena is a Digital Collectible Card Game – but with the benefit of having a physical card game to help promote it. The game has a passionate fanbase and eSports scene and is continually updated with new card sets.
A mobile version allowed crossplay and seamless competitive battles no matter what platform you were on. The ability to play MTG:A anywhere (as long as you had a strong enough connection) will have appealed to many – even those who were fans of the physical game and not the initial Windows release.
What are the benefits of player growth?
Many of these games are ‘freemium’, meaning they are free-to-play but in-game add-ons like skins, card packs, unlockable characters and more can be purchased via microtransactions. Other options on the list operate Battle Pass or Subscription models, meaning you pay a monthly fee to access major parts of the game’s content, or you pay for XP benefits and unlockable items.
Not every player will choose to spend their own money on these items or options. However, a growing number of players accessing a game via the release of a mobile version is bound to have a positive impact – more players usually means more players opting to spend their real-world money.
For the most part, mobile releases happen to keep former growth sustainable and keep players who can’t access the game on a console or computer able to continue returning.
The best mobile phones for multiplayer gaming
As mobile gaming becomes more and more popular, gaming smartphones are becoming a genuine option when searching for a new device. Offering excellent performance, innovative display and cooling technology, these phones are perfect for jumping on Brawlhalla or creating a new world in Roblox.
For Android enjoyers, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G is a perfect hybrid between a smartphone and a gaming phone. Not only do you get all of the stereotypical smartphone greatness, but you’ll get some of the best performance available on the market too. With one of the best displays on a smartphone available, and the exclusive Snapdragon chipset, it’s a truly excellent performer for all things gaming.
For those with a love for all things iOS, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a beast when it comes to mobile gaming. Capable of handling any game on the market and displaying it on a gorgeous 6.7-inch ProMotion display at up to 120Hz, the phone is a superb choice – and not just for gaming either.
A more affordable option may be the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 5G, which features a Snapdragon chipset and a large internal battery for all of your gaming needs. With the foldable dynamic display, this display of cutting-edge technology can keep you or your gamers happy for hours on end.
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Pick up a used gaming smartphone from 4gadgets today and make the most of free next-day delivery when you order before 3pm Monday to Friday. All our gadgets are available with a free 30-day returns policy and a 12-month warranty.