2022 was a year of big news and even bigger industry movements. Mobile gaming was no different. Here are the stories that set the scene back in May 2022.
The MENA region is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world, and Saudi Arabia has made its intent to become a powerhouse of the industry clear, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Public Investment Fund making a series of investments in companies such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two Interactive.
Through the PIF, the country acquired a minority stake in Nintendo in May 2022, for an undisclosed amount. Nintendo is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable names in the industry, and is responsible for some of the biggest franchises in gaming, from Pokémon to The Legend of Zelda.
While the deal may appear to be at odds with Saudi Arabia’s mobile-first slant, it’s worth noting that Nintendo has made a sizable imprint in the mobile space in its own right. The deal could also open up new avenues for the country as it attempts to become a worldwide gaming hub, offering new opportunities outside of mobile development.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard has been one of the biggest evolving stories of the year, and not always for the right reasons. While it’s due to be the biggest gaming acquisition of all time, the deal has seen fierce pushback, with countries all over the world attempting to block the acquisition due to concerns about how the deal could affect competitors, especially as Microsoft have repeatedly refused to formally promise to maintain Call of Duty’s current availability across platforms.
However, that’s not to say all the ire has fallen on Microsoft’s shoulders. Activision Blizzard has seen its own share of issues in recent years due to allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, and New York City filed a suit of its own against the company, alleging that the deal undervalued the company and would allow CEO Bobby Kotick to avoid accountability for the company’s actions while remaining a part of the executive team.
However, the deal has been approved in several territories since the suit was first filed and, while other territories are investigating, or even attempting to block the deal entirely, the brunt of their concerns remain targeted at Microsoft itself.
May brought more good news for mobile. Mobile is the largest sector of the games industry, and will generate 50 percent of all revenue earned in gaming this year. While this is significant, it does represent a slight decrease from 51 percent in 2021.
Despite the fall, this report optimistically forecast that the mobile sector would exceed $100 million throughout the year, despite the normalisation of the market.
While the mobile gaming sector has been undeniably successful in 2022, it has fallen slightly short of this projection, with Newzoo forecasting $92.2 billion in revenue as recently as this month. The market dip is a result of numerous factors, however it remains well above pre-pandemic forecasts.
This forecast shows that, ultimately, the future is unknown. Nobody could have predicted the pandemic, or any of the other issues facing the global economy in recent months. Was this prediction optimistic? Yes. Premature? Perhaps, but within a few years we could easily see the industry surpass $100 billion.
Despite recent turbulence in the Chinese market, the country remains a dominant force in the mobile gaming market, as showcased by this report. The country’s mobile gaming sector surpassed $9 billion in Q1 2022, representing a 2.72 percent increase year-on-year. This comes in spite of the (at-the-time) ongoing hiatus on game licensing, which saw no new games being released in the country.
A lot has been made lately about China losing its status as the world’s biggest mobile gaming market, but the market’s resilience in the face of adversity is notable. China’s strict regulations pose unique challenges and barriers to success and, while those issues have perhaps become clearer as the year has gone on, with new restrictions limiting young gamers to just three hours of playtime a week, the fact that the country’s mobile gaming sector managed to thrive in Q1 showcases the market’s strength, and highlights its potential to bounce back.
Diablo Immortal was one of the biggest releases of 2022, and one of the most talked about. However, the game has received criticism for the monetisation model: Despite their success over the past several years, loot boxes have been criticised for their randomness and fallen afoul of gambling restrictions worldwide, leading to their banning in Belgium and The Netherlands.
Due to the inclusion of loot boxes, Diablo Immortal wasn’t released in either country, putting a damper on one of the year’s biggest games, and marking the first of several significant issues the game has faced. Diablo Immortal would go on to see a lengthy delay in China, hampering its success further.
Despite this ban, Diablo Immortal has gone on to be a big hit, earning more than $49 million in its first month. However, Activision Blizzard have confirmed they won’t be taking the same monetisation forward onto other platforms.
Do you have a favourite mobile story from 2022? Take to Twitter with the hashtag #PocketGamerYearInReview to tell us your highs and lows of the year.
Want more? Get our pick of the best stories from June here.