The ESI Digital Summit which concluded last week had a great seminar on the world of mobile gaming and mobile esports. The three speakers were Jeff ‘SuiJeneris’ Chau who is the founder of GameGether and a former caster and pro player in AOV, Akshat Rathee the managing director of NODWIN Gaming and Patrick ‘Chief Pat’ Carney, the CEO of Tribe Gaming. The panelists spoke on a variety of topics related to mobile gaming including the low barrier of entry, need for localization, differences in various regions and why traditional PC esports might not be the best example to learn from. Here are the 5 key takes from the discussion:
The Stigma Against Mobile Esports Will Be Solved With Time
While mobile esports has seen unprecedented growth in recent times in both player base and viewership, there still is a stigma around it . Akshat compared esport’s journey to that of cricket’s saying that Test cricket is like PC gaming, meant for purists who look down on other formats. It’s meant to be for the hardcore fans and has a specific set of rules and structure around it. Mobile gaming on the other hand is like T20 cricket, which also was not accepted immediately but has slowly grown to be the most watched form of cricket. It’s not surprising to see existing esport fans being the gatekeepers and this situation will eventually be solved with time.
The Social Aspect of Mobile Games Is What Makes The Games Stick
The high player bases combined with the ability to communicate and interact makes these multiplayer titles a great way to connect. There have been quite a few stories about couples meeting over a game of PUBG MOBILE and with more and more people getting into mobile gaming, the chances of meeting someone is only that much higher. Akshat mentioned that PUBG MOBILE is technically the biggest dating app in India and not Tinder while Jeff iterated the same by saying in China, a similar phenomenon can be noticed with Honor of Kings. And it’s not just dating, even friendships and networks can be built on these platforms because of the social nature of gaming.
Localization of the Games is Important
While the games itself can be immersive, to build an ecosystem and a community around it there has to be localization be it terms of content or the game itself. In SEA, titles such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang have seen massive popularity because the publishers have made efforts to reach the audiences with focus on localizations. Be it with celebrations of local festivals in-game, or by adding commentary in local languages in the esports side of things, small steps like these has made the community feel included and in turn helped grow both viewership and playerbase. Even in India, despite the game being entirely available in English, more people tune in to the Hindi stream than the English one, because they prefer to consume the content in a local language.
Mobile Esports Will Not Be Chipping Away at the PC/Console Community But Rather Build Its Own
A person who already owns a PC/console at home, especially one that can be used to game is not going to play on their mobile’s so much because they already have a platform which supports better titles. Therefore, it’s unlikely that the mobile gaming community will be able to attract people with existing infrastructure. Rather, what mobile has been successful in and will continue to target are the underserved sections of the population, those who have access to internet and phones but probably not to high end PCs. Thus, the mobile playerbase and viewership and the PC/console community will not really be affected by each other for the near future and both can continue to grow at their own pace.
It’s Possible That Mobile Becomes the Platform For Advertisement For PC/Console
With more and more new faces becoming exposed to mobile gaming and esports via the mobile platform, there will be an opportunity for PC titles to find an avenue to attract new players. As mobile gamers feel the need to play more advanced and better titles, they will eventually become potential customers to the PC market. Hence mobile can be considered a gateway to gaming and the huge mobile audience can be a great place for companies to market to, especially those affiliated with the PC industry looking to acquire new customers.