Kevin Rosenblatt, co-managing director of ESL North America and general manager of mobile at ESL Gaming, assesses the potential of mobile in the esports and gaming industry.
Mobile gaming is poised to unlock the opportunities presented by innovative technologies like cloud-computing and 5G and, with 2.2 billion mobile gamers already worldwide, it’s fair to say this esports segment is much more than a passing trend. It’s the future – even if you don’t know it yet.
Many gamers are discovering that mobile gaming via a smartphone offers the same buzz and adrenaline-fuelled action found in next generation consoles and high-end PCs. Esports fans and viewers have been flocking to mobile too, with a report by Esports Charts showing that mobile esports was responsible for the three most-watched esports events at some points last year.
The openness and accessibility makes mobile gaming and esports a real game changer. Once the apps are installed on mobile devices, gamers can go from “the-couch-to-the-big-stage”, potentially winning thousands in prize money along the way. It represents a new frontier in esports that is accessible to parents and children, women and men, and people from all walks of life around the world.
The proof is in the pudding, or rather participation. In 2019 we saw a near 600 per cent increase in live viewership numbers for mobile esports from the previous year, and we know the pandemic further accelerated the growth of mobile esports in 2020 as well. This has brought an increase in the number of people participating in mobile games both as players and spectators, and, as production value increases over time, we can expect these spectator figures to continue to rocket.
With over 20 years of experience in esports, ESL has made a name for itself by building competitive ecosystems across a wide variety of games and genres in the esports landscape. This month saw ESL launch a new mobile esports ecosystem to meet that growing demand and provide competitive mobile esports experiences to millions of people in over 80 countries around the world.
What makes the mobile gaming opportunity so unique is the mass participatory element, with smartphones allowing mobile gaming to open up to a diverse audience, irrespective of skill level, where anyone can go from zero to hero.
Many of the challenges that confront mobile gaming’s lane change to the mainstream also present the opportunity that will seal its success. Currently, unreliable connectivity can impact player experience, but with 5G just around the corner, these will soon be yesterday’s problem. After hosting the European ESL Mobile Open Season One Finals seamlessly on a 5G test network, there’s a lot to be excited about here. But closing the digital divide will be key for this progress to be felt evenly around the world.
Meanwhile, software developers are tasked with bringing greater depth of experience to the world of mobile esports. It is another sticking point that will loosen along with digital innovations from cloud-computing and lower latency networks. But perhaps the biggest challenge for some is the perception of mobile gaming. Not only is it a legitimate ESL product offering, it’s also a lucrative one with the potential to overtake traditional gaming. But many are still awaiting their “Aha” moment.
The pandemic has accelerated the boom in mobile esports and with lower barriers to entry and mobile gaming already attracting global brands to the sector, there’s no doubt that there will be an ongoing shift in awareness and participation rates in the years to come.
Mobile is not just here to stay – it’s only going to get bigger and better. 2021 is just the beginning.
Courtesy: Sports pro media