Trends and Predictions for Mobile Gaming in 2017

Thoughts on the Evolution for Gaming on the Go

With 2016 now a distant memory, we are now focused on what 2017 has to offer for the mobile gaming industry. Certain studios will truly set the stage while others will follow suit, eventually changing the entire industry for the good or the bad. Here are some trends and predictions for the future of mobile gaming that we shall pay attention to.

All Eyes on Nintendo

With the Nintendo Switch and their release of exclusive iOS and Android mobile games, it is evident that Nintendo believes in the power of mobile gaming – playing anywhere and at any time. Although they struggled to compete in the console market directly with PlayStation and Xbox, the company has seemed to have renewed their vision and shift their focus with a strong emphasis of “mobile”. With the power of their exclusive franchises such as Mario and Zelda, they’ll be able to truly re-invent the way we play games on the go and their success on mobile platforms will inspire more studios to join in.

Mobile e-Sports Will Crack the Code

The eSports category typically targets a “hardcore” gaming audience with professional gamers competing globally across certain titles such as LoL, Dota 2, CS:GO, CoD, Hearthstone, and others. There is a huge fan base supporting the world of eSports and there is lots of money involved from massive prize pools to endorsements…I want to emphasize the world “lots”.

Over the years, eSports for mobile games have quietly grown with smaller communities built around titles such as Vainglory and Clash Royale. The viewership has shot up quite a bit, with the support of dedicated YouTubers growing audiences and ranking systems for the competitive factor.  Also, console-esque games such as Critical Ops which is essentially a CS:GO for mobile has also grown a fan base and is paving the way for tournaments against professional gamers.

For eSports to grow, we are still missing the right crop of mobile games to truly make it big but once it does, I do feel there is a niche opportunity for mobile gaming. As we’ll continue to see all sorts of MOBAs and first-person shooters hit the market and services such as Mobcrush (Twitch for Mobile Gaming) grow their users, it feels like all the right pieces will be in place for Mobile eSports. 

New Innovations Will Emerge

Whether it is attaching a VR headset, using location-based capabilities, or turning your smartphone into a controller – the mobile device is the most dynamic gaming device where game developers and innovators can find unique feature sets to apply to their gaming project.

Not surprisingly, Pokémon GO was last year’s biggest mobile game, and it used location-based capabilities to catch Pokémon. The discoverability and community are some of the reasons this game has caught fire and is only possible with a mobile device. We’ll likely see more of this innovation take place in 2017 moving into 2018. To what that will be, we still don’t know – if I did, I wouldn’t be here writing about it, instead I would be building it!

Another Nintendo Switch Competitor Will Arrive

Analysts believe that the Nintendo Switch will sell 40 million units through 2020 – what they also call a conservative number based on their previous evaluations in other products. There is a lot of confidence that this will sell and truly evolve the gaming market, especially handheld portable gaming system. As with all good things that catch on, I do believe there will be competition, whether it’s from Sony, Microsoft or a completely new hardware provider, which will make living room gaming to a more mobile and accessible experience. This transition is inevitable, which will bring games closer together and leaving players with more options to play on the go.

Mobile Ports Will Be the First Place to Start With Well Known Game Studios

In the previous years, the strategy for studios that are first stepping into the mobile gaming world was to start small which typically involved a free-to-play puzzler that tied in a premium brand. The problem is, it didn’t quite pull in their dedicated fan base and would have a brief stint in the App Store charts before falling down the totem pole into a graveyard of forgotten about games.

For big game studios to embrace mobile, the first place to start is to bring their classic ports and truly optimize them for mobile. Rockstar Games does this magnificently, bringing their GTA series and most recent, Bully, onto the mobile platform on a consistent basis. These are timeless gaming experiences that are really only worthwhile by owning an old system or hopefully porting it to mobile. Porting can also be disastrous if this is not taken with care – such as SEGA’s unimpressive ports of the Sonic franchise.

Nonetheless, we’ll expect to see more notable ports this year with attention to detail and sold at a premium price.

Round Up

Let’s be real – mobile gaming industry can be an erratic industry with glimpses of excitement but is also poisonous to the gaming community. But as we focus on the good and not the bad, it’s exciting to see plenty of growth and opportunities to come with titans such as Nintendo leading the way. With new smartphones being released and new supporting gadgets, gaming will continue to evolve and find new ways to capture our attention.

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