Wait, we know the answer to this – console games are the boss, right? Well, watch this space, because mobile gaming is fast gearing up to be a David ready to take on Goliath. If you’re sceptical then read on to find out why the small players in this industry should never be taken for granted. Mighty is the slingshot – apart from anything else, it’s small enough to put in your pocket and you don’t have to sit in your bedroom to play.
Over the last decade, mobile gaming has continued to grow in popularity and revenue, even outpacing console gaming in several aspects. This trend is influenced by several factors, including the accessibility of mobile devices, the free-to-play model prevalent in mobile gaming, and the increasing quality of mobile games. However, console gaming maintains a strong and dedicated user base, driven by exclusive titles, high-quality graphics, and immersive gameplay experiences. Let’s take a closer look at how mobile and console gaming measure up in terms of popularity and revenue.

Easy vs hard to play

Mobile games are incredibly popular due to the widespread ownership of smartphones and tablets. Essentially the market demographics for mobile games are far broader than that of console games, because they also cover the non-gaming market. As a result, there are many genres available for mobile which target non-traditional gamers. Being able to play games anywhere and anytime makes them attractive to anyone who has a bored five minutes to kill while waiting for a bus, or indeed anything. Titles like “Candy Crush Saga,” “PUBG Mobile,” and “Among Us” have seen massive player counts. In fact, match-3 style games such as those in the Candy Crush world are typically eschewed by the serious gaming community, partly because the nature of the games is so ‘pick it up, put it down’.

Console gaming is bigger in every way. The games are big, they cost more, the consoles are sizable; everything about console gaming requires dedication and loyalty. Console games are created for dedicated gamers who want to commit to immersive and high-quality gaming experiences which can last for hours rather than a spare five minutes here and there. Consoles like PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch have strong fan bases, and offer popular exclusive titles such as “The Last of Us Part II” (PlayStation) and “Halo Infinite” (Xbox) that contribute significantly to their popularity.


It’s a money game

Mobile gaming has seen a significant increase in revenue, making it the highest-grossing segment in the gaming industry. This is partly due to the free-to-play model where games are free to download, but players can make in-app purchases for additional content, cosmetics or other gameplay advantages. According to a report by Newzoo, the global games market generated an estimated $159.3 billion in 2020, with mobile games contributing 48% of that revenue.

Numbers like that show some pretty serious competition. While there’s no question about console gaming’s track record in generating substantial revenue from its slew of genre-defining, multi-franchise titles, it has been outpaced by mobile gaming over the last decade.

Let’s investigate where the numbers fall short. The revenue from console gaming comes from both hardware and software sales, which includes digital and physical game sales, as well as online service subscriptions. All of which indicates a lot of buyer action. The problem is consistency. The console gaming sector relies heavily on big launch events for highly anticipated titles that have had a lot of hype and pre-sales marketing (which doesn’t come cheap). You’ll have a big burst of revenue on release, but the numbers will drop off fairly quickly. A similar spiking pattern also occurs leading up to the holiday season (think Christmas presents etc.), with a sharp drop soon after.


Play to the end – and beyond

Do we have a crystal ball to tell you how this is all going to play out? We sure don’t. But we can take an educated guess about a number of scenarios happening. The gap between mobile and console gaming might continue to evolve with advancements in technology such as AI and AR – but this could go either way. We could also see a kind of ‘hybrid’ gaming experience Cloud gaming and cross-platform play are becoming more prevalent, and these could potentially bridge the gap between mobile and console gaming experiences.

Everyone got excited about 3G, then 4G, now with the introduction of 5G technology, mobile gaming could get a real boost when it comes to gameplay experience. Latency and lagging issues could become a thing of the past, and more power could allow developers to create more complex, multiplayer games which can be played as smoothly on mobile devices as games played on console. But it’s not all bad news for console gaming. With new hardware and exclusive titles, console games will maintain their appeal to ‘serious’ gamers who will be seeking ever-better gaming experiences.

As with any industry, trends can shift for a number of reasons: new technological advancements, market dynamics, and consumer preferences. Ultimately, all gamers, be they mobile junkies or console hardliners, will find what they’re looking for within the gaming world, and plenty of it.