By Pavo Jurkic
December 5, 2019
We all know the esports industry is a growing behemoth. We’re well-aware of that when watching some of the most lucrative events like The Internationals or LoL Worlds. These events resemble the most grandiose sports spectacles like the Olympics or World Cups, even more so with each passing year.
The esports industry surpassed $1 billion in revenue, with the newest projections expecting close to $1.8 billion in esports market revenue by the end of 2022. That just goes to show you the massive expansion of esports, with more lucrative sponsorship deals and plenty of investment action going on in the background.
There’s no doubt that CS:GO, Dota 2 and League of Legends are the frontrunners as far as esports’ growth is concerned. They are the most stable esports titles, continually racking in splendid numbers as far as viewership goes.
Better viewership means better brand exposure, and better brand exposure means more investments.
It’s a never-ending cycle, and esports is getting the most out of it!
However, conventional esports titles are not the only ones racking in massive figures. Mobile esports popularity is on the rise, too. Titles such as Clash Royale, Vainglory, PUBG Mobile and Free Fire are booming with popularity, with high expectations for years to come.
Mobile esports popularity is basically on the brink of creating a separate niche inside the esports industry. From a business perspective, mobile esports popularity brings forth a ton of opportunities for investors and sponsors.
Before going into more details regarding business opportunities and brand exposure mobile esports popularity can bring to the table, let’s look at the numbers to see what sort of figures are we talking about here.
Let’s start with Free Fire, a massively popular mobile battle royale game that’s been breaking record after record. According to Esports Charts, Free Fire World Series 2019 Rio had more than 2 million peak viewers, establishing itself as one of the most viewed esports events in the industry’s history.
The event ended earlier this month and has taken the fifth overall position sorted by peak viewers.
Here’s what I’m talking about here:
|Event Name||Prize Pool||Peak Viewers||Hours Watched|
|2019 LoL Worlds||$2,225,000||3,985,787||137,876,707|
|2019 Fortnite World Cup||$30,000,000||2,334,826||22,708.434|
|2017 LoL Worlds||$4,170,000||2,102,206||74,375,813|
|2018 LoL Worlds||$2,250,000||2,050,475||83,092,619|
|2019 Free Fire World Series||$400,000||2,016,157||7,595,061|
|Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am||$3,000,000||1,970,852||5,320,151|
|The International 2019||$34,308,060||1,968,497||88,808,004|
|2019 Mid-Season Invitational||$1,000,000||1,704,326||43,799,752|
Free Fire World Series 2019 in Rio racked in impressive numbers all across the board. Best of all, it’s a tournament that lasted six hours. To put things into perspective, the esports event with most unique users, 2019 LoL Worlds, had 136 hours of active duration.
PUBG Mobile Club Open Spring Split Global Finals had close to 600,000 peak viewers, just shy of 7.5 million hours watched, and $400,000 in prize money. I know many conventional esports that wouldn’t be ashamed of having such numbers.
Clash Royale is another one that perfectly depicts mobile esports popularity. The game’s World Finals 2018 had 361,849 peak viewers, with a total of 2.4 million hours watched with nine hours of total duration. This year’s Finals start on December 7 with $400,000 in prize money. Expectations are sky-high with many experts predicting this year’s event will crush all the records.
There are certain obstacles mobile esports have to overcome if they are to reach the next level of professional gameplay. If left unaddressed, these obstacles could snowball to a burning issue that could suffocate the up-and-coming niche.
That said, let’s go through the most prominent ones real fast!
Even in this day and age, people refer to mobile gaming as the plague of modern society. The same narrative was active and referring to video games for quite a while until they became mainstream, and people realized their potential. In simpler terms, older generations are hesitant to accept new pastimes.
Mobile gaming is considered nothing more than pure time-wasting. Even PC or console gamers think of mobile gaming as time-wasting. However, with the rise of smartphone technology, developers are bringing forth more complex mobile games than ever before. Battle royale, one of the most popular video game genres on PC and consoles, has found its way to the mobile market.
Games such as Free Fire, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile are all massively popular and run just fine on most smartphones. Of course, enthusiasts always need that extra bit of firepower to get a competitive advantage.
The thing is, with the booming mobile esports popularity, people need to understand the value of mobile esports. We’re not talking about time-wasting here. We’re talking about the mobile equivalent of conventional esports which, according to current and projected numbers, has a bright future.
The second obstacle mobile esports need to overcome is the notorious pay to win scheme. While most (if not all) popular mobile esports titles are free to play, there are tons of upgrades, loot boxes, and whatnot that require real money purchases. Often enough, this sort of premium content brings forth a competitive advantage, in the form of extra in-game coins for upgrades, better weapons, and stuff like that.
While it’s not that well represented in the top-tier mobile esports, freemium P2W content and paywalling still exist and could cause issues down the road if not addressed on time.
Once again, mobile esports popularity keeps on growing and shows no signs of stopping. It’s more accessible than conventional esports because the majority of people nowadays have solid smartphones capable of running games. Plus, the majority of mobile esports titles are free to play, meaning there’s no entry fee to the games’ competitive aspects.
Well, technically, most of these games are freemium, meaning you get the base game for free but have to pay for certain upgrades, thus creating a paywall some players can’t through.
This is the biggest issue the mobile esports industry is facing at the moment. It needs to be resolved. Otherwise, the mobile esports popularity boom might go to waste.
If mobile esports developers realize the burning issue in due time and fix the paywall issues, I’m sure we’ll see mobile esports continue to develop, eventually creating a separate industry and enjoying massive popularity with younger audiences.
Yep, the world is slowly, but surely, transitioning from conventional sports (and dare I say, esports) to new, more accessible counterparts.
We’re living in a crazy world…