Ten years ago, Steve Ballmer, then Microsoft CEO, said “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” The same year, the mobile game market was worth a reported $3.9 billion, and set to keep growing, according to Gartner.
One of those predictions was a lot, lot better than the other. But they both proved that a lot can change in 10 years.
2017, it turns out, has been a very good year for game developers. This year, the global games market will generate $116 billion in software sales. That’s a healthy 11% compared to 2016, according to Newzoo. In fact, it’s been such a good year, that Newzoo had to revise its estimates $7.1 billion higher from its predictions back in January.
The biggest driver of that change? Mobile games.
That’s a lot of money going to the top games, but also a lot of new games hitting the app stores – 75 new games are submitted every day, according to PocketGamer.
So it should come as no surprise that a recent survey by PocketGamer.biz and Mobvista found that developers and publishers were broadly optimistic about 2018. But the volume of new games – and therefore competition for time, eyeballs and wallets – was also their biggest concern.
A big trend for 2018 and beyond is that developers are increasingly looking further afield to help fuel their growth. This also reflects that as smartphones have penetrated emerging markets, mobile games have a bigger potential audience than ever before. Markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China, are seen as the biggest opportunities for growth.
Companies are also optimistic about new technologies, especially Augmented Reality (AR). Whilst VR may currently be out of favor (the result of two years of rampant over-hype, and the massive acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook), AR and mixed reality don’t need special headsets or fancy sensors. While Pokemon Go is still the only AR-based game to become a major success, the introduction of Apple’s ARkit and Google’s ARcore in 2017 has reignited excitement for the technology among developers.