Direct spending on mobile games was more than the combined total on consoles and PCs in 2017, a study by App Annie and IDC found.

“Mobile game spending was 2.3-times PC gaming and 3.6-times game consoles last year,” App Annie SVP of research Danielle Levitas wrote in the companies’ joint Gaming Spotlight 2017 Review report.

“With billions of mobile devices in the world, apps are the mass market gaming platform for casual and serious gamers,” she noted.

The study also found games generated nearly 80 per cent of worldwide consumer spend for iOS and Google Play, although they only accounted for around 35 per cent of global downloads.

Player vs player
The top two grossing games worldwide on both iOS and Google Play in 2017 featured live player versus player (PvP) gameplay, “demonstrating that hardcore-leaning multiplayer elements aren’t just possible on mobile devices, but have already proven popular and lucrative”.

The ascent of titles including Honour of Kings (published by Tencent), Lineage 2 Revolution (Netmarble), Fantasy Westward Journey (NetEase), and Lineage M (NCSOFT) to the top of the mobile grossing charts shows live multiplayer games are an important trend in gaming. Lewis Ward, research director of gaming and AR/VR at IDC, said such games “on smartphones and tablets took a big step forward in 2017.”

“Although titles such as Clash Royale, Roblox, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft have been popular in western markets for some time, it’s now clear that publishers from Asia-Pacific not only have an answer to these titles, but upped the ante last year not just in scale but, arguably, in the sophistication of live PvP and co-op gameplay.”

APAC growth
Rapid growth in a few key markets in Asia-Pacific, most notably China, Japan, and South Korea, helped fuel mobile gaming’s ascent in 2017.

All regions saw an increase in mobile game spending in 2017, but over 60 per cent of mobile game spending occurred in Asia-Pacific.

With games like PUBG: Exhilarating Battlefield, and PUBG: Army Attack becoming increasingly popular on mobile devices, the research companies noted the live multiplayer gameplay mode should also impact mobile gaming in 2018, particularly in Asia-Pacific.