There’s no need to underline the fact that esports are in a state of spectacular growth. Organizations like the Overwatch League clearly show that the amount of money, effort and public interest in esports is quickly rising. As the market grows, many analysts are pointing towards the expansion taking place inside of the mobile esports domain.
The backbone of this process is the fact that the global number of smartphones and tablets is constantly rising, giving way for new fans to discover both esports competitions and esports spectatorship. This is why there is a consensus that mobile esports will experience a significant growth in the upcoming years. Here are some key facts about the development of this particular segment of the esports market.
Popular Cross-Platform Games That Are Not Mobile Esports
To understand mobile esports, it is paramount to understand which games belong in this category and which do not. Firstly, cross-platform games that only have a mobile presence are not mobile esports. Hearthstone, for example, is played on many phones and tablets, but during esports competitions, all the pro players use computers. This game first appeared on PC and Mac, only to later get iOS and Android ports.
The upcoming Artifact by Valve will likely be in a similar category. Recent battle royale titles like PUBG and Fortnite were all native computer games. Like Hearthstone, their mobile versions came after the computer versions. Sure, PUBG Mobile is hosting its own mobile-only tournament so that could eventually change its status inside of the mobile sports domain. For now, this category is reserved for games that are played exclusively on mobile devices.
Most Popular Mobile Esports
1. Clash Royale:
There is no denying that Clash Royale by Supercell is the heavyweight contender of the mobile esports field. This game clearly leads the pack and ever since it came out in 2016, it has only managed to entrench its position. Clash Royale is set in the already massively popular world of the Clash of Clans, so it had a huge following from day one. With its focus on the competitive head-to-head model, it managed to attract an impressive 44 esports organizations into its Clash Royale League ecosystem.
Currently, it is structured as a regional competition that funnels into an annual world championship. The league even has a live studio broadcast that is operating out of Los Angeles. All of that plus 50 million daily active users means that Clash Royale will continue to reign as the dominant mobile esport.
2. Mobile Legends:
This game has an edge over its competitors - it has by far the largest Twitch audience. Developed by Moonton, the game has generated $200 million since its launch in 2016. Currently, Mobile Legends is battling to become the most popular mobile MOBA game, which means it has to grow on the flourishing esports scene. Right now, the developers are focused on Malaysia and Indonesia, where the game made a strategic partnership with AirAsia. The 2018 season in this region includes a $100,000 prize pool so the game clearly has some tailwind going for it.
This mobile esports title is older than Clash Royale and represents the first true MOBA on a mobile device. Recently, it added a 5v5 mode, which helped it become even more like its computer counterparts, LoL and Dota 2. Over the summer of 2018, the game was present in many commercials that focused on the iPhone’s X capacity for mobile gaming.
Almost five-years-old, the tile has a solid pro scene and the development company, Super Evil covers regional leagues in East Asia, SEA, China, North America, and Europe. The title is also included in the WESG (World Electronic Sports Games) championship. Yet, the game has its share of problems. After its VPL (Vainglory Premier League) was launched, teams like Cloud9, SK Gaming, and Team SoloMid left the competition. Since then, the game struggled to find a user base in Europe and North America, even though it still runs tournaments in those locations.
4. Honor of Kings:
According to some prominent voices inside of the mobile esports community, Tencent’s Honor of Kings has the biggest potential for growth in this niche. Honor of Kings came out in 2015 in China, where it managed to become the most popular mobile title and attain the highest profit of all mobile games. In 2017, the game had 200 million active users and earned $1.9 billion. Naturally, an esports scene began to grow around it. The best players compete in the King Pro League which includes partnerships with brands like Volkswagen and M&M. Earlier in 2018, a single player transfer deal worth $1.2 million showed the game’s full esport potential.
5. Arena of Valor:
The story of Arena of Valor or AoV is a bit more complicated. Basically, it represents the international release of Honor of Kings. Tencent, the publishing company, immediately created an esports league that covers Latin America, North America, and Europe. Since then, it has been featured on a number of trade shows using custom tournaments. It has also been one of the first esports titles to be a part of the Asian Games. Still, Arena of Value continues to be a far cry from the Honor of King’s success.
6. Summoners War:
This mobile strategy game was developed by Com2uS, a South Korean company. Since the launch Summoners War has obtained over 90 million downloads across the globe. The developers are planning new spin-off titles as well as cartoons that use the same IP. When it comes to mobile esports, the game is trying to make some headway with its World Arena Championship. The 2018 World Finals will feature a prize pool worth $110,00.