The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
Call of Duty: Mobile passes $3bn in lifetime revenue, half of all engagement for the franchise is on mobile
Remember this moment. Where you are and what you're doing was you're reading this. Something special just happened in the world of one of the planet's biggest entertainment franchises - Call of Duty just went mobile first.
The total earnings figure of $3 billion dollars is quite the milestone. And while the various numbers regarding earnings are impressive its the fact that Call of Duty is played on mobile just as much as it is elsewhere that's the real deal here.
It's official. Half of the engagement with the Call of Duty brand is now on mobile. And given that that figure has been on the rise it's safe to say that it's only going to tip further in mobile's favour. All of which is a ringing endorsement of Activision Blizzard's forward thinking to get ahead of the game and just one of the many reasons why Microsoft covet them to the tune of $69 billion.
It'll be interesting to note how the figures stack up in the years to come and perhaps one day we'll look back and realise that the presence (or non presence) of Call of Duty on this console or that console really wasn't the big deal after all.
Advertising is a massive industry in itself, and one that largely relies on the success of other platforms. Certain ad spaces, such as those during the Superbowl, sell for millions of dollars for their ability to make hundreds of millions of impressions all at once.
Gaming’s lack of attention by USA advertisers shows that, perhaps, many within the industry are behind the times, focusing on the tried and tested even as consumers worldwide shift their focus elsewhere. Streaming services, for example, are growing more and more popular, and consumers are eschewing live television as a result. Even without that, it’s worth considering that live viewing figures can fluctuate, a show’s popularity can decline - and an expensive ad slot can become less effective as a result.
Mobile gaming is, in a sense, evergreen. Its popularity is largely due to its affordability, best epitomised by the free-to-play model, where the game makers don’t just make money by selling advertising slots, players can earn in-game bonuses by watching ads.
Once again, gaming is undervalued by those outside the industry, with tired misconceptions about who gamers are leading them to be labelled as low-value users, despite gaming’s growing presence on the world stage.
Are we about to hit a tipping point? Possibly. After all, mobile games are being advertised on TV now alongside major brands, so it’s possible that this could go both ways, and with more and more advertisers stating their intent to enter the games space, it’s clear that those in the know are taking note of the industry, and we could soon see a fresh influx of major brands flocking to advertise their products on a platform they’ve historically overlooked.
As someone who initially worked in games outside of mobile, one of the first things I noticed entering this part of the gaming industry was the negative stigma often aimed at mobile, unrightfully so I might add.
I’ve spoken with many people about why they have these feelings about mobile gaming, and I’ve often heard negative feedback about the free-to-play model. The idea that these games are free to download, but then before you know it, you have to pay real money to make any real progress. Which in some games is true, but there are so many out there doing it right.
This article from Isabel Davies is an excellent example and a positive way of looking at the free-to-play model. I see no issue with a game trying to turn its players into paying ones. That’s happening all over the industry, not just mobile; you only have to look at all the games featuring battle passes or in-game currencies like we see in GTA Online. The critical aspect, however, is balance. If developers can find this balance, monetising your game can be a positive experience for players, which in turn is positive for the mobile industry.