As 2019 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have dominated the last 12 months in mobile gaming.
As such, we've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2020.
- Jason Ng is Vice President of Strategic Partners at Garena
PocketGamer.biz: What's the thing you're most proud of during 2019?
Jason Ng: For 2019, Garena focused very much on two things - firstly, enhancing the gaming experience for our community of gamers worldwide and secondly, engaging them further with dedicated esports events.
We have our global community to thank for Free Fire being named as 2019’s most downloaded mobile game, according to App Annie.
If I had to choose one milestone that I’m most proud of, it would be the scale at which we grew our global Free Fire community at in 2019, achieving new record audiences for our esports events in the process.
The Free Fire World Series 2019 had over 2 million peak concurrent viewers online, which is a record for a mobile esports tournament, according to Esports Charts. In total, the World Series racked up over 130 million online views around the world.
Which mobile games have you most played/enjoyed during 2019?
It has to be Free Fire. There was a regular flow of content updates which constantly kept the game exciting.
Recently, we made Clash Squad a permanent feature for Free Fire gamers. It started out as a new and experimental game mode, but after receiving strong positive feedback from our community, we included in our game permanently with our most recent update.
Clash Squad is a 4v4 best of 7 game mode, where players compete to be the stronger squad. Each round is 1.5 minutes long - featuring a shorter and more engaging gameplay.
Winning or losing each round, coupled with the number of kills, will determine how much you get for your weapons the next round — getting squads to decide which strategy will work best for them for that particular round.
What do you think will be the biggest trends in 2020?
One trend I believe we will see more of is that of other media forms having more even tie-ups with games.
We have already seen popular music icons bringing their personalities and music to games — DJ Alok in Free Fire is one such example—and characters from comic books or movies have also made appearances in games.
I expect this type of collaboration to become only more common in the future, as games continue to garner ever larger audiences across broader spectrums of society.
With the right optimizations in gameplay and control schemes, core games with sophisticated gameplay are absolutely viable on mobile.
Players will also seek new ways to engage with games, be it in the game itself or through other channels. Video content will be a key part of the engagement, regardless of whether it’s livestreaming, or dedicated content created and curated to suit different gamer interests.
If you had one New Year's Resolution for the mobile game industry, what would it be?
I hope that mobile game developers will continue to push the envelope in terms of innovation, while maintaining a focus on player experience.
Not too long ago, it was generally accepted that mobile games would have to be much simpler than games on other platforms like the PC or consoles, simply due to the limitations inherent to mobile devices, such as the smaller screen size or lack of physical controls.
The mainstream adoption of titles such as Arena of Valor and Free Fire have clearly shown that with the right optimizations in gameplay and control schemes, core games with sophisticated gameplay are absolutely viable on mobile. I hope to see even more innovation in the coming year, so that we can collectively bring even more engaging experiences to gamers everywhere.
You can check out all our 2019 in Review articles here.