It took weeks for the Covid-19 virus to spread across the globe, disrupting our daily lives and changing consumer behaviors overnight. Over 100 million Covid-19 cases have been confirmed as of early 2021. To slow down the rate of spread, governments worldwide have imposed strict lockdowns and social distancing. The disastrous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be understated. Besides contracting the disease and the risk of illness, the virus has also had second and third-order effects on our lives. Particularly when it comes to entertainment and mobile gaming, Covid-19 managed to leave its mark on our daily lives and boost the mobile gaming industry’s growth.
As The Virus Spreads, So Does Mobile Gaming
While many industries have suffered from the pandemic, from restaurants closing, casino establishments and hair salons, many businesses suffered the fate of permanent closure; others are merely existing and waiting to see how things turn out. For the online gaming industry, especially the mobile gaming industry, the Covid-19 has proved to be an unexpected boon. During the most challenging months of the first wave, mobile games quickly surged due to being easily accessible and the most versatile entertainment forms for persons stuck at home due to lockdowns. For 2020, Google Play downloads grew to 108.5 billion, up from 84.8 billion in 2019, a 21.85% year-on-year growth. That’s almost a 22% increase compared to the previous period of 2018 to 2019 when Google Play experienced a 10.70% growth in app downloads.
Rise of Social Gaming
The unprecedented surge in downloads means that many people have now been introduced to mobile gaming. Besides providing an escape from reality, mobile gaming can provide people with a digital social experience while social distancing themselves in the physical world. Games like UNO! and Ludo are traditionally played offline but are also available for free through Google Play and the Apple App Store. These classic games and many other multiplayer types of games provide a way for friends and strangers to come together, share a laugh and just have a good time. Another popular form of gaming that has seen adaptation online is popular casino games, like roulette and blackjack. Until recently, the game offering in online casinos has been limited to digital versions of the traditional games and slots games. The gaming experience is isolated between players. As mobile gaming is becoming more widespread, there is also a demand for more high-end games, better experiences with social elements and interaction between players. The casinos have adapted to these conditions by developing games where players can play together while still enjoying the thrill of playing casino games. Games like JetX are more social and communicative, have interactive elements with players playing side-by-side in the same game, communicating and betting together.
In the past year, the mobile gaming industry has proved that it has a better chance of survival in difficult times. It is a massive industry worth over $160 billion annually with over 2.7 billion gamers globally. Many new players are being ushered into the world of gaming following the pandemic. As a result, these numbers are expected to grow exponentially. The claim that the mobile gaming industry is recession-proof is not far fetched. In a recession, the spending power of consumers typically goes down. As a result, consumers would stop or opt for other, cheaper pursuits. In mobile gaming, most people have a device they can play games with, and there are thousands of free-to-play and freemium games available. In the example of online casinos, most operators offer players free-to-play games both for live dealer games and traditional games.
One thing is certain; social gaming will continue to grow, Covid-19 or no Covid-19 pandemic.