Mobile gaming and Esports will keep on expanding during 2021

Recognized consultant company Newzoo is offering its view on the main trends to watch in 2021 for key entertainment segments: Games, Esports and Mobile.

Esports via mobile devices will show great evolution in markets such as China, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Esports via mobile devices will show great evolution in markets such as China, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

There is no doubt that the pandemic experienced in 2020 (which is still present) triggered the numbers of global consumption of video games and Esports. Currently, gaming sector represents a US$159.3 billion market. There are 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, with 2.5 billion playing on mobile, 1.3 billion playing on PC, and 0.8 billion on console. Thanks to growth markets in regions like Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America, this number is on track for even further evolution in the coming years. About Esports, global revenues surpassed US$1 billion in 2020 for the first time, with a total Esports audience of 495 million people, including 222.9 million Esports Enthusiasts (people who watch more than once a month). With these numbers in mind, research firm Newzoo decided to take a look into the future, and anticipate main trends for this season in Gaming, Mobile Gaming and Esports. Here is the analysis.

GAMING TRENDS FOR 2021

a. Engagement and revenues will continue to flourish: even after the pandemic subsides, engagement and revenues will continue to stick. In 2021, the games market will generate revenues of US$189.3 billion.

b. It will take time for next-gen console supply to catch up to demand: manufacturing and launching new consoles is never easy. The pandemic will make next-gen launches even more difficult. Hardware and software development challenges will continue into 2021.

c. The cloud gaming market will grow its audience this year: cloud gaming revenues will exceed US$1 billion for the first time in 2021, when most of the major players (including Amazon, Google and Microsoft) will have launched their services across various platforms.

d. Gaming-as-a-platform & metaverse development will expand publishers’ addressable market: game worlds can now simulate experiences like fashion shows, music concerts, and movie showings. These events have been great for engagement, so brands and artists will continue experimenting.

e. Gaming will energize efforts towards reducing toxicity and promoting diversity and inclusion: companies’ D&I efforts over the past few years are certainly to be commended, but there is still a long way to go. Game companies are striving for further improvements. Many of them will surely take place this season.

MOBILE GAMING TRENDS FOR 2021

a. The removal of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) may change the face of mobile marketing: due to the removal, Newzoo expects to see a short-term lower spend on user acquisition across iOS. Instead, this spend may flow into Android, web, or other channels.

b. 5G penetration will begin to spike: 16% (more than 700 million) of all active smartphones will be 5G-ready by the end of this year, up from just 5% in 2020. By 2023, the share will skyrocket to 43% (2.1 billion active smartphones).

c. Genshin Impact video game will catalyze more AAA experiences on mobile: following Genshin’s success, even more Chinese developers will expand overseas with AAA (video games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher) immersive and competitive content, not only on mobile, but also on console and PC.

d. App Store distribution will face challengers on all fronts: individual games, publishers, and services will continue to change the face of game distribution on mobile, in the East, West, and everywhere in between. 

e. More IP-based games will come to mobile, while mobile IP expands beyond gaming: as mobile continues to be the fastest-growing and most-prevalent gaming platform, more and more IP holders across various entertainment divisions are vying for a slice of the opportunity pie.

ESPORTS AND LIVE STREAMING TRENDS FOR 2021

a. Mobile Esports enter the upper Echelon: as consumer appetite for mobile Esports continues to grow in China, Southeast Asia and Latin America, mobile Esports will keep on subverting expectations in the once-PC-dominated market.

b. Esports teams will continue to diversify: teams will expand beyond the model set by traditional sport structures, putting a large focus on other initiatives, like positioning their company as a lifestyle brand or hiring content creators.

c. Traditional sports will increasingly look to Esports: pro-sports events are starting to happen again, but sports organizations spent 2020 accelerating their Esports efforts. Many of these experiments will continue into 2021 (especially, the successes).

d. League-based formats will foster the ecosystem: with travel restrictions still inhibiting international play, this year will show an increased focus on league-based formats and regional play alike, permanently, for some scenes.

e. Non-gaming content becomes even bigger on streaming platforms: streaming platforms will double down on a wider variety of content beyond gaming, like concerts, political events, and live shows; especially as young people increasingly move away from cable TV.