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Trends that will redefine the mobile gaming experience

By , Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing, MediaTek Middle East and Africa.
Africa , South Africa , 10 Mar 2021
Rami Osman, Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing, MediaTek Middle East and Africa.
Rami Osman, Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing, MediaTek Middle East and Africa.

Mobile gaming has come into its own over the past few years. Analysts say the gaming industry generated $85 billion in value in 2020, while an estimated 2.5 billion people play games on mobile devices. Advances in technology also mean mobile games are increasingly able to compete with the visual fidelity of their console and PC cousins.

Market researchers believe there are at least 11 million gamers in South Africa and forecast strong growth due to the increasing youth population. 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.

Here are four reasons to expect mobile gaming to continue its strong growth this year:

5G becoming mainstream

As commercial 5G networks become more widely accessible in South Africa, they promise to transform mobile gaming. You will be able to download large game files faster, allowing for a better experience. You will also enjoy smoother multiplayer gameplay with less lag, thanks to lower latency. Furthermore, 5G opens the doors to cloud gaming on demand.

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.

Rise of gaming-as-a-service

Playing a mobile game with console-level graphics, sound, and gameplay is starting to become a reality as companies like Microsoft and Google stream them from the cloud. Rather than downloading the whole game onto your device, you’ll be able to stream it as you stream music from Spotify or video from Netflix.

This means you’ll 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 with no need to download or update software from your side. You’ll be able to pick up the same profile and previously saved version of the game, whether playing on your 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 graphics, processing, AI and so forth. This trend is a few years away from widespread adoption, but the wider deployment of fibre and 5G means it’s closer than many gamers imagine.

Bespoke technology 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 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

With the rise of social media, today’s gaming space has enabled gamers to connect with friends and meet new people, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiplayer games like Fortnite and Minecraft are already popular with massive communities, while Among Us became a breakthrough hit during COVID 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.

The social aspect of gaming isn’t just about playing—the number of fans who watch others play is huge and growing fast. Twitch, a video service where gamers can stream gameplay for others to view, has more than 3 million broadcasters and over 15 million active users daily. Activate forecasts 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.

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