The train compartment of a Mumbai Local, all-around I see people commuting and busy tapping away on their phones, matching candies to get that much-needed dopamine hit at the end of a busy day. It’s Candy Crush Saga all around. It’s hard to think of them as mobile gamers, but what is the purpose of a game? Games entertain us, promote relaxation, give us opportunities to exert control, be creative, socialize, prevent boredom and challenge us. Whether it’s getting a 1v4 clutch in a Call of Duty: Mobile game or hitting that high score in Subway Surfers, enjoyment is the common thread.
In South Asia, due to the increase in income over the past decade, smartphones and cheap data plans have opened up the sphere of gaming to the masses. According to the Southeast Asia + Chinese Taipei Mobile Games Report & Five Year Forecast by Niko Partners, There are now more than half a billion smartphone users, expected to rise to 628 million by 2023. With many mobile titles being free to play, roughly 40% of all smartphone users play mobile games. 5G is planned to launch in most GSEA countries in 2020, which is expected to boost mobile gaming too. PC and mobile game revenue for Southeast Asia + Chinese Taipei (also referred to as Greater Southeast Asia and GSEA) is projected to pass $8.3 billion in 2023 with 320 million gamers and internet user penetration in Southeast Asia (SEA) and Chinese Taipei is projected to pass 99% by 2023.
Esports is the most important driver of growth in the games industry in Asia, with an overwhelming majority of Asia’s gamers actively playing or competing in esports games. 90% of mobile gamers in GSEA play esports games or compete in some form of esports. The region’s leading games company, Singapore-based Sea Corp.‘s Garena business unit, developed mobile hit Free Fire, which recently surpassed $1 billion in revenue globally and has more users than Fortnite and PUBG combined. Also given the current global situation, mobile gaming is being viewed as an alternative to PC bangs and cafes which are now shut.
Gaming on a small screen is a challenge in its own way. With more complex games like Call of Duty: Mobile coming into the picture, the skill floor and ceiling are both being raised. Watching a PMWL or MPL game shows you just how much coordination, precise hand movements and strategizing are required to win mobile games.
Mobiles are getting cheaper and games are getting more challenging.
Getting ganked by dad during matches sucks. Most of us can relate to a similar experience. Many South Asian parents don’t recognise gaming as anything serious. However, over the years, gaming, streaming and esports are slowly gaining recognition as legit professions. Personalities like Ninja and Shroud are making it big and it’s up to us to help break a parallel stigma attached to mobile gaming. The trope that ‘Mobile gamers aren't real gamers’ needs to die. PC gamers alienating those who play mobile games need to understand that we are displaying the same gatekeeping attitude, that the previous generation’s sports fans showed about video games.
Mobile gaming is a valid career choice, there are several livelihoods attached to these games. The recent disbanding of Megastars due to the PUBG ban clearly shows us this. Encore took to YouTube to talk about the PUBG Mobile ban and its impact on his life.
Mobile gaming is changing lives as PC gaming did before it.
As someone who comes from means, it's hard to imagine just restricting yourself to gaming on a mobile phone. After all, if the Glorious PC Master Race has taught us anything, it's that no handheld device will ever match the superiority of a PC. The advanced graphics, high frame rates, wider variety of titles, mod capabilities and customization is unmatched. However, watching a 14-year old kid trying to get a Chicken Dinner on his brother’s phone should fill us with hope, maybe he can make it big someday like MortaL, Dynamo Luxxy or Zuxxy and so many before him.