Over the past decade, mobile gaming has grown at a rate that few could have predicted, and it is now the most popular form of gaming in the industry.

Back in 2012, this certainly wasn’t the case; mobile gaming made up roughly 18% of the gaming industry which, at the time, was worth a total of $70.6bn worldwide.

Since then, the device penetration of smartphones has increased dramatically, making mobile games much more accessible. By 2016, mobile gaming had overtaken PC gaming and console gaming to take up the largest portion of the market.

Two years later, mobile gaming took up 51% of the global gaming industry, meaning it was larger than PC and console gaming combined. Now, it commands roughly 55% of the industry and that figure continues to grow year on year.

Worldwide, there are now more than 2.2bn mobile gamers, compared to 1.5bn PC gamers. In terms of revenue, mobile beats out both PC and console, generating $86.3bn in 2020, compared to $37.4bn for PC and $51.2bn for the console.

So, when looking purely at the numbers, it’s clear that mobile gaming has already taken over PC gaming. More people play mobile games, and much more money is spent on them.

The reasons for this are, as mentioned, fairly obvious. Nowadays, more people have a smartphone than those who have a PC built for gaming. Since the development of the iPhone, smartphone user numbers have exploded – roughly 80% of the world’s population has one.

It is far more affordable for many people in different parts of the world to have just a smartphone, without the additional cost of a PC setup. Indeed, high-end PC gaming rigs can be extremely expensive.

Straight off the bat, this creates a staggering captive audience for mobile games. Plus, these games are convenient and accessible; they can be played from pretty much anywhere, and they can usually be dipped in and out of very easily.

Mobile games rarely require someone to sit down and commit a chunk of time to them; people can play for a few minutes while they’re waiting for the bus, or they can spend longer during their downtime if they so wish.

Besides their accessibility and portability, another big reason mobile games are so popular is that a lot of them are free to play. Users can go into the App Store – or equivalent – and download games at no extra cost to their monthly bill.

Conversely, almost all PC games come with an upfront cost, and for new AAA titles, this is usually quite steep.

The way mobile gaming creates so much revenue is mainly through microtransactions and add-ons to free games. In order for players to progress or get access to more features, they will often have to pay money.

While this has been met with derision from some parts of the gaming community, it has also been undeniably successful and allowed the mobile gaming industry to grow exponentially.

Plus, most of these games don’t require high levels of skill – certainly not at first – or any additional equipment to play; they’re available at the tap of a screen.

Mobile gaming is also easier for indie developers to get into, as there is a lower cost of entry. It does not cost as much to develop a game for mobile as it does for PC or console, meaning there are many more developers creating games for this platform.

This has led to a much more diverse range of games available on mobile, creating more potential for customers and users to be satisfied. From first-person shooters to an online casino, mobile gaming offers something for almost everyone.

Perhaps one area mobile gaming does not stack up against PC and console gaming is quality. It is rare for a game designed for mobile to crossover and become a critical success, especially when going up against those made for PC and console.

The fact remains that the technology and setup of PCs and consoles mean that they can offer far more immersive and narrative-driven experiences for players. This is reflected in end-of-year awards and critical reception of games.

That being said, the mobile gaming industry is embracing big titles initially designed for other platforms.

Take Fortnite and PUBG, for example; they are two extraordinarily popular games played by people across the world, predominantly on PC and console. However, these titles have now been optimized for mobile as well and spread like wildfire there.

Given the success of these transitions, major developers like Bethesda and Activision are now actively creating games for mobile as extensions of some of their biggest titles. This is only going to lead to yet more growth for the mobile gaming industry.

So, while mobile games are unlikely to ever become the most respected titles in the industry, there is no denying that they are played more than any other form of games, especially PC.

The ease of accessibility, the fact that they are often free, and how they are optimized to be played on the go have made mobile games the most popular form in the industry, and it seems as though that trend is only going to continue.