2020 will be a year that lives long in many people's memories, for better and for worse. Thankfully, there have been some fantastic experiences on mobile to help us all through these particularly trying times.
The games industry is thriving despite the devastating effects of COVID, and the mobile sector has also seen extraordinary growth this year. Games have undeniably been a force for good under unprecedented circumstances.
With that, we've reached out to several members of the industry for their insight, thoughts and personal experiences throughout 2020. We're on a mission to discover favourite mobile games, how has the industry coped under the pandemic, and what we could see in 2021 and beyond.
PocketGamer.biz: What do you think was the biggest news or event for the mobile games industry in 2020?
Daniel Stammler: Apple announcing the changes to IDFA with iOS 14 in the summer was a piece of news that hit hard in 2020. Many developers - especially in the free-to-play casual and hypercasual space (including us) - who rely heavily on effective ad campaigns for user acquisition were fearing for the worst.
Of course, not forgetting the thousands around the globe working in ad-tech who saw their livelihoods threatened. Eventually, it was great to see parties from all sectors collaborating in the search for solutions.
After a few underwhelming public responses to large franchises moving to mobile in the past, it was a pleasure to see excitement for the release.Daniel Stammler
Which mobile game do you think had the biggest impact on the industry this year?
Although it’s not technically a 2020 release, I want to mention TiMi’s Call of Duty: Mobile here. After a few underwhelming public responses to large franchises moving to mobile in the past, it was a pleasure to see excitement for the release.
Specifically how the game largely managed to satisfy expectations and how it remained incredibly successful even months after the launch. It's a great display of what our platform has to offer, even to audiences that are considered more "hardcore”.
What is your top mobile game of 2020?
One of my personal favourites this year was the mobile adaptation of Among Us. The game gained popularity at a time where we were all desperately looking for ways to interact with our friends over distance and it offered exactly that; a fun and accessible way to stay in touch with friends and family.
Do you think the mobile games industry has reacted well to the many challenges that presented themselves this year?
Absolutely. We are in the fortunate position of working in an industry that almost exclusively operates digitally, enabling rather smooth transitions to remote working models for developers across the globe.
Still, it was great to see studios out there supporting each other, sharing knowledge and best practices. Seeing many companies acknowledge their privileged position and give back to their local communities in times of need made me especially proud to work in our industry.
What do you think will be the biggest trend over the next 12 months?
The past months have shown how impactful social features in games can be – our market continues to grow and mobile gaming becomes increasingly accessible, attracting players who are looking for casual and fun ways to interact with their friends.
I believe that many developers out there will now push to find ways of integrating social elements into their titles, even in genres that are not usually known for it.
In terms of your company, what's the thing you're most proud of during 2020?
The acquisition by Ubisoft in January would be an easy answer. As a company, we have worked incredibly hard these past years to deliver world-class products and services to our players and build a sustainably successful company along the way. By joining one of the oldest and most successful gaming families out there was an incredible confirmation of our efforts and will allow us to continue growing for years to come.
Looking at the entire year, I am proud of how well we reacted as a team to the Covid-19 pandemic. Coming from a heavily on-site driven work style, we made a complete shift to remote work within the course of a few weeks and developed and published our latest game Idle Restaurant Tycoon entirely from home.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I am looking forward to hopefully returning to the office, at least in some capacity in 2021 and working on-site with the team once more. We have hired over 40 new staff members in 2020, many of those were onboarded fully remotely and I can’t wait to finally get to know them in person.