Over the past decade the gaming industry has exploded. In 2022 it was worth an estimated $217 billion, and it is growing at a CAGR of more than 13 percent. The growth of gaming is closely associated with smartphones. With smartphone penetration up above 90 percent of the adult population in much of the western world, it is fair to say that practically everyone has one.
Mobile gaming has steadily become more significant year after year. It has now reached the point where it generates more than 50 percent of gaming revenue. In other words, more than console and PC put together. But that is only the beginning of the story. To see where it is leading, and the potential impact on console gaming, we need to look at Australia.
Australia – the global tech barometer
A barometer measures the air pressure and gives you a good indication of what sort of weather to expect. Australia performs a similar role when it comes to global tech trends. The nation is tech ready and tech savvy and an early mover. Where Australia leads, the rest of the western world tends to follow. We saw it 20 years ago with internet adoption, and 10 years later with smartphones. We saw it with e-commerce.
What we are seeing now is that mobile gaming is doing more than beating other platforms. It is obliterating them to the extent that mobile gaming now generates 85 percent of Australia’s $2 billion global gaming revenue. When you compare the numbers, Australia is a drop in the ocean. But when you look at the trend, it could transform the gaming market completely.
Different genres – casino, puzzle, mobile eSport
Part of the reason that Australians favor mobile gaming so strongly is a consequence of the genres that are most popular down under:
- Casino games – Australia is one of the most important markets for online casino games. Australians gamble on average more than $900 per capita per year and half of that goes into pokies, or slot games. The best mobile online casinos in Australia offer thousands of different pokies plus classic casino games like roulette and blackjack.
- Puzzle games – Wordoku, Wordle, Words with Friends, Candy Crush Saga – these are just a few of the titles that are consistently trending among Australian gamers. They are all casual games that a player can pick up for a minute or two and then put down again.
- Mobile eSport – Australia has embraced mobile eSport more quickly than the rest of the world, surely another example of that “tech barometer” phenomenon. Major Australian companies like Qantas and Telstra are putting significant sponsorship dollars behind tournaments.
These very specific gaming trends partially explain why Australian gaming is so mobile-centric. The rest of the world might follow in some areas, such as mobile esports, but not necessarily at all. There is, however, another reason that the console gaming age could be at an end.
The shift to GaaS and cloud-based gaming
When we want to listen to music or watch a movie, most of us do so using an app. We’ll ask Alexa to play our favorite album, or we will find a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime. We are less likely these days to take a CD or DVD from its case and slide it into a player. Many of us don’t even have a CD or DVD player now.
From that angle, console gaming already looks quite archaic. But of course, with Gaming as a Service in the form of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass, the discs are already being consigned to history. So, what is the point of that console?
It is no great stretch to see a near future when all we will need is a controller, a smart TV and a subscription to one of the gaming services to play console games without the need for a console. Or we could follow the Aussie route, and just play on our phones instead.