Opinion

How long until mobile esports becomes a thing in ANZ?

Mobile esports is something that you hear get mentioned. It’s big enough to have been made part of the Asian Games 2018. But where is it at in ANZ?

The increasing market share of mobile games

First, let’s start with plain old mobile games before diving into competitive mobile gaming. I’ve covered some basics in my article talking about labels we use to describe gamers especially mobile gamers. But, don’t mind if I revisit some points here.

One particular point to highlight from Newzoo’s earlier 2018 Global Games Market Report:

Mobile gaming is expected to be worth US$70.30 billion in 2018. It’s expected to make up 51% of the global games market.

Side note: 51% is more than half of a cake. That’s a lot of cake, dude. Seriously. It’s roughly this much cake (excuse my lack of artistry):

51 percent of market expected to go to mobile from Newzoo, 2018.
So much cake.

It’s difficult to imagine that particular figure because a lot of it is heavily represented by the Asian market where mobile use is higher. One way to judge this is by looking at more data from Newzoo’s September 2018 Global Mobile Market Report:

  • 9 out of 14 top grossing publishers across both iOS and Android are based in Asia: China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, to be precise.
  • Of the 3 billion smartphone users expected this year, 1.6 billion (approx. 53%) of them are expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region. A majority of that 1.6 billion will be from China’s expected 783 million (approx. 49% of APAC & 26% of global) smartphone users.

With our closest neighbours getting in on the mobile gaming action, it makes me wonder about the situation of mobile esports here in ANZ.

Recent mobile esports events to keep in mind

Now that we’ve covered the general mobile market, let’s talk about the most recent mobile esports events to make waves.

The Asian Games 2018

The Asian Games are always fascinating. It’s not the Olympics so they do some (what would be) strange things compared to what people imagine an Olympics would be like.

In particular, 2018 was the first year that the Asian Games included esports as a demonstration sport. As I said in my last mobile article, 2 out of 6 of the esports titles were mobile games. Personally, I still find that fact mind-blowing because of the emphasis we have here locally for console and PC esports. But, it’s Asia, they’re mobile-first.

Melbourne Esports Open – Red Bull M.E.O. by ESL

I will admit that I was not fully aware of there being a mobile esports competition running as part of the Melbourne Esports Open. Most of the chatter was around Overwatch, League, the usuals. Of all the games they were competing on, it was Clash Royale–the one mobile game that I actively play that’s considered an esports title.

Mobile esports in ANZ - Screenshot of Fran playing Clash Royale
This is what Clash Royale looks like on mobile. Screenshot from a round I played earlier today. FYI I didn’t win 🤣

This event was Australia’s debut as the first host of the “worldwide series of qualifiers” according to Red Bull’s own coverage of the event. Again, mind-blown over here at that fact. I didn’t expect Australia to play this big a role.

But, why shouldn’t I expect Australia (or New Zealand) to play as big a role in mobile esports?

Where I think ANZ will be at in regards to mobile esports

We’re at a stage in the mobile gaming scene where we’re:

  1. Getting ports of games onto phones: We weren’t really expecting to be able to play PC or console games on mobile phones (e.g. PUBG, Fortnite, etc.).
  2. Seeing more gaming phones from manufacturers (e.g. Razer, Xiaomi, ASUS/ROG, etc.).

Add to that, the growing number of younger gamers playing mobile games–games themselves that are competitive in nature. The growth has taken enough people aback. Just look at school reactions to games like Fortnite (and hilarious, totally not serious Ban Fortnite petitions).

If there’s anyone that’s going to be driving mobile esports in ANZ, it’ll be younger gamers with an interest in competitive gaming. Why will they spend $xxxxxx on a gaming rig or esports peripherals when all they need is a phone or tablet to compete?

With all that said, I think 2019 will be the year I expect us to get more mobile esports competitions locally.

On that note, if you’re organising a mobile esports competition for 2019, I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights.

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Fran

Lifelong gamer with a fond love of RPGs, MMOs, puzzle games and mobile games.

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