This has been an exceptional year for mobile gaming, as it brought in $41 billion in revenue, surpassing both PC and console earnings for the year. We asked industry insiders and analysts about what they thought were some of the year’s biggest mobile gaming events that helped the industry soar. Hint: everyone is wild about Pokémon GO and can’t get enough Clash Royale.
“Mobile games had another great year in 2016. Analysts projected mobile game revenues at nearly $40 billion in revenue to surpass PC and console earnings for the first time, marking a new milestone in market strength and potential. The release of several consumer VR headsets sparked growth in VR gaming and made mass adoption not just possible, but inevitable. Supercell showed their magic once again by launching the megahit Clash Royale. Pokémon GO broke through and became a global cultural phenomenon that catapulted mobile games back into the spotlight as a massive market opportunity. And finally, we saw a rewind in history with Facebook experimenting with HTML5 games on its Messenger platform.” – Terence Fung, chief strategy officer, Storm8
“As I look back on 2016, two mobile games stand out as particularly groundbreaking: Clash Royale and Pokémon GO.
“Clash Royale showed the world that eSports can work on mobile in a meaningful way. In addition, the title illustrated for the first time that real-time PVP (player-vs-player) can drive a #1 top-grossing hit. Prior to Clash Royale‘s launch, the mobile ecosystem was largely ignoring the viability of eSports and defaulting to asynchronous PVP as the go-to structure for social competition in mobile gaming.
“There’s no denying Pokémon GO was a tremendous phenomenon, and groundbreaking in various ways. Like Clash Royale, it established a mega hit in a space that was largely being ignored: location-based gaming. Many studios had previously tried to deliver a location-based mobile game and failed. This led the industry to move away from exploring real world locations in game design.
“Although Pokémon GO‘s success is unlikely to be replicated by future location-based titles due to how perfectly the IP fit the concept and captured the cultural zeitgeist, I believe it played an important role in introducing a completely new form of interactive entertainment that lays a foundation for future location-based titles to succeed now that consumers are familiar with the mechanics involved.” – Chris Akhavan, chief revenue officer, Glu Mobile
“It has to be Pokémon GO and the wide consumer adoption of a data-driven game. Just looking at the revenues, it would be hard to cite anything that has had nearly as much impact.” – Stuart Duncan, CEO and founder, icejam
“A lot has happened in mobile gaming, as one can imagine. Mobile gaming has become a lot more focused on midcore, hardcore and strategy games than the Candy Crushes of the world. From a customer affinity standpoint and taste perspective, we have moved on from Candy Crush to more sophisticated games.
“From a user acquisition standpoint, mobile video is at the center stage for how gaming companies are acquiring the right kinds of users. That has happened a lot more this year, and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more going forward.” – Piyush Shah, chief product officer, InMobi
“After years of stagnation, the smart implementation of megabrands provided a jolt to mobile in 2016. Pokémon GO smartly integrated a broadly appealing brand into location-based gaming, the power of the Clash IP helped turn Clash Royale into an instant hit, and Super Mario Run is already at the top of the free and grossing charts. Next year will see even more companies trying to use their brands in mobile.” – Patrick Walker, VP of insights and analytics, EEDAR
“China overtook the US as the world’s largest mobile game market, reaching $10.0 billion in 2016. In the first 80 days after its launch, Pokémon GO had already made over $470 million in gross revenues. This was one of the only new entries in the top 10 grossing game rankings all year. Mobile game developer, Supercell was valued at $10.2 billion following its investment by Tencent. Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s first true mobile game, released on iOS.” Peter Warman, CEO, Newzoo
“Pokémon GO earned $788 million, just under the top-5-titles despite launching mid-year. Its success showed the persistent potential of mobile games as promotional tools: sales of older Pokémon titles and 3Ds hardware picked up, and new 3DS titles Pokémon Sun and Moon enjoyed record-breaking sales at launch in November. Additionally, the mobile game helped Nintendo see the potential for mobile, and the company’s ﬁrst true mobile game, Super Mario Run, features its ﬂagship character.
“Clash Royale’s addictive gameplay borrows from both MOBAs and collectible card games and cementing Supercell’s reputation as the premiere mobile hitmaker. Shortly after the game’s launch, Tencent purchased a controlling stake in Supercell from former owner SoftBank. The deal gave Supercell greater access to the Chinese mobile market, where it is virtually impossible for even the largest Western publishers to succeed without a local partner. The investment helped it become the second title in 2016 to earn over $1 billion for Supercell.” – Joost van Dreunen, CEO, SuperData Research