It's that time of year again. You know the one, where PocketGamer.biz reveals its Top 50 mobile game makers of the year.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, PGbiz's Top 50 2020 took a digital turn this year. Hosted by Steel Media CEO Chris James, a selection of the mobile industry's finest came together for an evening of talks, Q&As and panels before the live unveiling of our Top 50.
The night was a great success, with over 400 people across 50 countries tuning in to catch the action.
A huge congratulations to Zynga, as the American company held on to the No.1 spot for the second year running, an impressive feat. Although, there were many fantastic winners, all of whom have had a great year despite any issues that may have been thrown their way due to COVID-19.
Other winners included augmented reality specialist Niantic, Chinese tech giant Tencent, Sayonara Wild Hearts publisher Annapurna Interactive and hypercasual specialist Kwalee. To check out all the winners, be sure to visit our official Top 50 Mobile Games Makers 2020 list.
We've also made a super lovely, downloadable brochure of all the winners, which you can get ahold of here.
As part of the evening, Zynga president Bernard Kim took to our virtual stage to take part in a Q&A. Kim discussed how the past 12 months has treated Zynga, including acquisition and deal opportunities, such as Gram Games, Rollic and Peak Games, the latter of which was purchased for a staggering $1.85 billion.
Furthermore, the exec explained why the company felt that now was the right time to jump into the hypercasual market.
"Every single year, the category increases; it continues to capture the minds of players. What we see is player activity, and not every player wants to jump into a marriage with a video game," said Kim.
Heading to Asia
The first talk of the night was held by Lucrion GmbH CEO Don Kim. He discussed the current climate of the Asian market, and what to expect from G-Star 2020 - the biggest B2B event in Asia - and why it is an important event for those within the industry to attend.
This year's G-STAR b2b exhibition will be held online, so everybody will be able to meet top Asian gaming companies in a more convenient environment. G-STAR has also partnered with PocketGamer.biz again this year to make registration easier than ever. Even better, if you book to attend Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020 at the same time, you can save 20 per cent off the price of both events.
Nearly half of the global games market is in the Asia-Pacific region, at 47 per cent, according to Kim. Furthermore, in 2020, the mobile sector makes up 48 per cent of the industry worldwide. In Korea, the mobile games industry has grown by 15 per cent over the past year.
"With the COVID-19 situation, the Korean gaming market has grown pretty fast," said Kim.
"The Asian gaming market is very important, and is a worthy region to explore."
On the rise
During the Top 50 event, we held a panel that focused on upcoming companies within the mobile games market. A trifecta of industry CEOs joined the panel to offer their thoughts and opinions on how new firms should approach the industry: Tamatem founder and CEO Hussam Hammo, GameJam CEO Christian Calderon and East Side Games CEO Josh Nilson.
The second panel was focused on the past, present and future trends within the mobile space. Combined, our four panelists have a wealth of knowledge and experience within the games industry – Super Evil Megacorp CEO Kristian Segerstrale, Stillfront Group COO Alexis Bonte, Playrix business development director Sergei Zaitsev and Scopely vice president of corporate development Rob Ricca.
When it comes to trends, it would be impossible to not discuss the coronavirus outbreak, given it posed a variety of challenges. However, as our experts revealed, many mobile firms saw an increase in downloads and playtime due to users being at home in lockdown.
"It definitely had an impact in terms of engagement, as people had not a lot to do," said Bonte.
The final panel before the reveal of the Top 50 Mobile Game Makers 2020 was focused on company culture. Industry experts tackled topics such as how to build a successful culture within a company. Taking to the stage, we had Kwalee's head of development Simon Platt, Niantic head of diversity and inclusion Trinidad Hermida and Voodoo studio and game lead Sophie Vo.
"The culture isn't just about strategy for any one aspect, it makes the people happy, it makes the work better, and ultimately the people that we're working for, the consumer," said Platt.
The Top 50 Mobile Game Makers show will be made available online for those who missed it live.