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Latest Trends in Mobile Game Development

2020 should be an amazing year for the game industry. All of that cool future tech we envisioned as kids, it’s like, really here now – VR / AR, 4K resolution monitors, paying for groceries with cryptocurrencies. And just the number itself, 2020 – what developer wouldn’t want to release an amazing game to set off the new decade and go down in history books?

But what’s really amazing is how far mobile gaming has come. Mobile gaming was once (and still is) considered primarily a casual appeal, something hardcore gamers wouldn’t really enjoy. And now mobile games are the largest sector of the entire gaming industry, and hardcore gamers are making massive amounts of money streaming their mobile gameplay. My mind is blown by how far we’ve come, how about yours?

In any case, with that bit of introductory pep-talk out of the way, let’s examine some of the latest trends (gameplay features, technology, etc) in mobile game development that we can expect to see a lot more of throughout the year.

The future in the clouds

Cloud gaming is definitely going to be such a game-changer for the future of gaming, and it’s already being used in so many mobile apps. For example, being able to save your progress to cloud storage, so that you can pick up the game from another device. Or installing a mobile game client, and being able to play a base version while the rest of the assets download from the cloud.

As for cloud game streaming to mobile devices, the technology is entirely here. The only hurdle it faces is consumers’ limited data plans – 4G is good enough for cloud gaming, and 5G is rolling out across numerous nations.

Cross-platform gaming

Cross-platform compatibility has become a huge deal in the gaming industry. While there are still many titles exclusive to specific consoles or PC, we’re also seeing a rising trend of multiplayer games like Fortnite, Hearthstone, and others that allow crossplay between mobile, PC, and consoles. It’s also possible to crossplay many multiplayer browser games between mobile and PC, for example, if you’re accessing an online casino from your phone’s browser.

The graphics and interfaces of the mobile versions are pretty tuned down from their console and PC counterparts, of course, but mobile phones are increasingly powerful every season. Some games, like PUBG, offer Ultra HD modes that can be enabled on the latest premium phones.

Mobile eSports games

With esports being a triple-digit billion-dollar industry, a lot of game developers would love to develop the next big competitive game. MOBAs are especially popular right now, with games like Mobile Legends, Vainglory, and Arena of Valor are the top MOBAs on mobile devices, and a mobile League of Legends version is already in development, and may soon open for a beta.

Many of these games also have built-in live-streaming capabilities, such as by connecting a Twitch or YouTube account. This has created stories like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who earns over $500,000 USD monthly streaming Mobile Legends.

More subscription services in games

One-time IAPs (in-app purchases) fueled the mobile game industry for a long time – gamers buying cosmetic items for their game characters, typically. However, more and more developers have been playing with optional monthly subscriptions that offer rewards to the player. Most of the MOBA games mentioned in the previous section have available, where players can earn free champions or skins through the subscription service. Expect more developers to play with this idea.

Also, when cloud mobile gaming becomes a more tangible thing, that’s going to cost a subscription as well – and we can throw 5G subscriptions into the mix as well. So yeah, 2020 is going to be subscription fees out the ying-yang for mobile gamers.

PC and console IPs coming to mobile

As we’ve seen with Fortnite, PUBG, Call of Duty, Black Desert Online, and others, numerous game franchises are being ported over from console and PC to mobile devices. Some upcoming mobile games to be released that are console / PC ports include Company of Heroes, EVE: Echoes, Runescape Mobile, and Diablo Immortal.

For the big-time game companies, it makes a lot of sense to take existing, successful IPs and turn them into mobile games, considering that mobile devices are nearing (last-gen) console graphics.