Let’s take a look:
1. More App Companies Embracing the Power of AR
This trend has been slowly growing since the launch of Pokemon Go in 2016, but it definitely made some strides in 2018 with the release of mobile games like Next Games’ The Walking Dead: Our World and devices like the Magic Leap One.
In 2018, Google announced a platform built specifically for developers wishing to create AR games for android phones. By using the phones camera, ARCore is able to place digitally rendered objects into the real world, and has already been activated on 100 million Android phones.
This is similar to a platform released by Apple in 2017. ARKit surpassed 13 million downloads within six months. Nearly half were from games alone.
With more developers being able to create augmented reality experiences, we definitely believe we’ll be seeing more businesses incorporating it into their apps, propelling this trend into the mainstream.
We can look forward to more mobile games in 2019 as well, with the upcoming release of Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite taking place sometime in the new year. App Annie even predicts the game will exceed $100 million in consumer spend in its first 30 days.
2. Mobile Gaming Keeps On Rising
It’s no question that the mobile game market has been growing exponentially. We began to see this back in 2016, when mobile revenue surpassed PC and console. Now it is expected to account for 60% of market share in 2019. Whoa!
Newzoo estimates that mobile games will generate over $100 billion by 2021, while App Annie is pushing it further, saying the gross revenue for 2019 will be over $122 billion with 60% more apps monetizing through in-app advertising. This data is reflected in some specific gaming trends that have popped up in the past year.
The first, is cross-platform games like Fortnite and PUBG. These games opened a whole new wave of gaming in 2018. The ability to play anywhere, and on any device, brought multiplayer gaming to a whole new level.
Essentially, battle royal games marry the old first-person shooter game genre with the competitiveness of e-sports. Make it free to play and you have a recipe for success, and apparently extreme virality. Fortnite and PUBG have both earned billions of dollars through IAPs. Fortnite even held a 100-person competition at E3 in Los Angeles this year.
Then, of course, there is the rise of hyper casual games.
3. Hyper-Casual Games Driving Download Growth
We have been learning quite a bit about hyper-casual games this year. With short session lengths and simple game mechanics, this genre is making its mark due to addictive gameplay, and will keep the gaming market booming.
While you can find some IAPs in the hyper-casual games, they mainly monetize through advertising (like rewarded video, banners and interstitials). In a guest article at VentureBeat, Sean Webster, VP of business development at AppLovin, states that “hyper-casual games lend themselves well to competitive ads. What this means is that hyper-casual’s success is often a result of its publishers running ads within its competitors games.”
Sounds counter intuitive, right? Well, in this instance it seems like a bit of a win-win. Because ads for similar games are more relevant to your users, players are much more likely to click through. Webster even goes on to say that “it’s this cross-promotion via ads that allows hyper-casual games to go viral and as a result, drive low CPI at scale for similar games.”
Hyper-casual games may have a shorter lifetime than other games out there, but that isn’t scaring anyone away. Because they rely so much on advertising, they tend to “make the biggest share of revenue in the first couple of days, unlike IAP-heavy genres, where the most active users make the most money over time,” Johannes Heinze, managing director at AppLovin, says in a blog article on their site.
All of these results are making hyper-casual games popular amongst publishers and players. In fact in the App Store’s Top 10 Free Games chart, 8 belong to that genre.
4. New App Stores Shaking Up the Marketplace
Publishers haven’t been happy with the 30% commission fee charged by both Apple and Google on their stores. This resulted in a big upset earlier this year when Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, took their iconic game off of the Google Play Store and launched their own store for users to download the popular game on their phones.
However, Fortnite is the only mobile game you can download in the store… for now. Epic Games has said it is creating a whole new app store that will be released in 2019.
In this new store, Epic Games has said it will charge a 12% commission fee, which is less than half of both Google and Apple’s. This will bring more options to the mobile store space and create “an avalanche effect that makes it easier to attract both gamers and game developers to the store in the future,” according to Lucian Armasu, writer at Tom’s Hardware.
5. The Push for Transparency Growing Stronger
Transparency is a growing priority for both publishers and advertisers. Among other things, more transparency will help reduce ad fraud, a massive issue in the programmatic ecosystem. Google has even taken to warning developers of SDKs they have spotted with malicious intent.
More transparency in the industry will also help publishers and advertisers to better understand the performance of their ad tech partners, evaluate the results and hold their sources accountable. As transparency becomes a standard for the industry, it will push a wave of consolidation.