Mobile gaming has come into its own over the past few years. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion people across the globe play games on mobile devices and local marketing experts believe that there are at least 11 million gamers in South Africa. With more people staying home due to national lockdowns, it looks like that number is only set to increase. What’s more, advances in technology also mean mobile games are increasingly able to compete with the visual prowess of their console and PC counterparts, opening up a whole new world of a gaming to existing gamers and new-comers.
In South Africa particularly, there is a clear trend towards social and mobile gaming, with the free-to-play revenue model dominating the market. However, we are also seeing more console-like experiences emerge on mobile devices as games like Fortnite and PUBG take off among smartphone and tablet gamers. So, what can gamers expect from the world of mobile gaming in the future? We take a look at 5 trends that are set to change mobile gaming in the coming months and years.
The rollout of 5G
As commercial 5G networks become more widely accessible in South Africa, the technology is set to transform mobile gaming. The faster 5G network connection will allow gamers to download large game files faster. Plus, players will also be able to enjoy smoother multiplayer gameplay with less lag, thanks to lower latency. 5G will also open the doors to cloud gaming on-demand, for an improved gaming experience.
Of course, to experience the full power of 5G, gamers will need to invest in powerful smartphones driven by a 5G-enabled chipset with integrated features that match the connectivity, graphics and processing demands of today’s games. New age chipsets and 5G will help make mobile games accessible to everyone, in turn, encouraging developers to invest in creating more sophisticated and exciting online experiences for mobile gamers.
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New streaming technologies
It might sound impossible, but playing a mobile game with console-level graphics, sound, and gameplay is starting to become a reality as companies like Microsoft and Google look at launching their highly accessible distribution platforms, xCloud and Google Stadia. Rather than downloading the whole game onto their mobile device, new gaming streaming technology will allow gamers to stream games from the cloud. This will no doubt blur the lines between games and online entertainment in a big way.
Not only will this improve the quality of gameplay but it will also allow gamers access to a wider library of games at a more affordable price. Gamers will likely be able to pay a monthly subscription to enjoy a wide catalogue of games, all of which will be patched and updated on the server. This means gamers won’t need to download or update software from their side and they’ll be able to pick up the same profile and previously saved version of the game, whether playing on a smartphone, PC or console.
A gamer will be able to stream and play a game on even a lower-end smartphone and enjoy consistent performance because the server in the cloud will take care of the processing and AI. While this technology is still a few years away from widespread adoption, the wider rollout of fibre and 5G technology means it’s closer than we imagine.
Bespoke technology that elevates the gaming experience
Technology companies are focusing on providing hardware technology designed to enrich mobile gaming on smartphones. Premium gaming chips for global smartphone brands include powerful features like the MediaTek HyperEngine gaming technology for the 5G era, which has seen significant adoption in 2019 and 2020. This technology includes a wealth of features that speed up game load times; create reliable, low-latency connections by managing multiple networks; and manage resources to provide consistently high frame rates, all while maximising battery life.
Smartphones are also starting to feature next-generation wireless audio and ray-tracing graphics capabilities for augmented reality and other immersive gaming experiences.
Deeper integration of social features
Social media has grown way beyond the likes Facebook and Twitter, today’s gaming space has adopted social media in a big way. enabling gamers to connect with friends and meet new people. Multiplayer games like Fortnite and Minecraft are already popular with massive communities, while Among Us became a breakthrough hit during national lockdowns brought on by Covid-19 because of its social, pick-up-and-play nature.
The Entertainment Software Association says 65% of frequent gamers play multiplayer games, 40% have met new people through video games, and 55% say video games help them stay connected with their friends. We can expect to see deeper and more powerful community features such as hangout areas and lobbies become a standard part of every mobile game’s experience in the years to come.
Not playing just watching
But the social aspect of gaming isn’t just about playing — the number of fans who watch others play is huge and growing fast. Gaming has already established itself as a mainstream spectator sport. A report from Neilson suggests that 71 per cent of millennial gamers watch gaming content on YouTube and Twitch. What’s more, experts forecast that eSports will have more viewers in the US than any other professional sports league except for the NFL by the end of this year When audience growth overtakes player growth, that fundamentally flips the business model on its head.
In the future, developers will likely be looking at developing games to satisfy not only the players themselves but also a potential viewing audience.
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