As 2021 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have defined the last 12 months in mobile gaming.
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 2022.
PocketGamer.biz: What do you think was the biggest news for the mobile games industry in 2021?
Henry Wang: Apple’s effective sunsetting of IDFA was inarguably the biggest headline of the year, but what initially had some industry veterans worried has proven to be far less of a threat than many thought.
A few categories are having to compete more aggressively for big-spenders, but there have been an equal if not greater number of new opportunities for publishers to improve their return on ad spend and even move into new categories at reduced risk thanks to lower overall acquisition costs.
more people than ever have developed meaningful relationships with mobile games, many of which are first-time gamers
Which mobile game do you think had the biggest impact on the industry this year?
Even after being banned from the App Store, the cultural and legal impact of Fortnite this past year has been unparalleled. The legal precedents set by the battle between Epic and Apple will have lasting effects on the entire mobile industry.
While Epic Games ultimately paid damages in its suit, the ability to inform users of alternative payment methods will be a game-changer for many. Judge Rogers’ legal opinion is a historic first for the industry that will influence policy — and game design — for years to come.
What is your favourite mobile game of 2021?
It’s a classic, but I’m still impressed by what Com2us continues to achieve with Summoners War. Few games have the creativity necessary to keep players engaged after more than six years of live operations, but Summoners War’s RPG and deck-building mechanics have proven evergreen.
What’s more, Com2uS is always hard at work on new features — from a PvP arena gameplay mode to initial experiments with blockchain technology. And most importantly, it’s fun to play!
In terms of your company, what's the thing you're most proud of during 2021?
I’m proudest of how we’ve managed to cultivate a supportive environment that’s made everyone feel welcome as we continue to grow. Securing a $150 million investment at a $1.5 billion valuation from Tiger Global Management has meant a lot of new faces around our offices, both physical and virtual.
Furthermore, I’m genuinely awed by our team’s ability to adapt to shifting market conditions, including the recent updates to the contextual targeting algorithms that have allowed us to continue delivering immense value to marketers even in the absence of device-level identifiers.
Honestly, I’m proud of everything the team has achieved this year. We look forward to accomplishing even more in 2022.
what initially had some industry veterans worried has proven to be far less of a threat than many thought
What do you think will be the biggest trend over the next 12 months?
At the moment, NFTs and the metaverse seem to be gaining traction with mobile publishers and developers faster than any other industry trend.
The notion of interoperable game economies and play-to-earn mechanics are fascinating, and I’ve heard more than one publisher liken the current level of excitement to the early days of free-to-play, complete with a healthy number of opinions on either side.
I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out in the coming months.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
A silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that more people than ever have developed meaningful relationships with mobile games, many of which are first-time gamers. That has meant plenty of exciting new opportunities for mobile game makers, and the marketers looking to reach new audiences at lower costs.
Even after 13 years, it’s still thrilling to witness the incomparable speed of innovation around mobile gaming. It remains a hotbed for creativity, full of curious people perpetually willing to experiment.
You can check out all of our 2021 in Review interviews here.