How the pandemic jump-started mobile gaming’s social evolution

How the pandemic jump-started mobile gaming's social evolution

2020 brought massive unexpected changes to the world and closed most countries due to COVID-19. During these challenging months, mobile games quickly became one of the most versatile and accessible forms of entertainment for those stuck at home.

People in the gaming industry have already started to refer to 2020 as the beginning of a new era for mobile games. In China, which had early bans, downloads peaked at 284.3 million in February. This trend later shifted to western countries.

This year, App Store downloads grew 35% year over year to nearly 3 billion, while Google Play installs rose 38% to 10.3 billion, resulting in record growth for both stores. Experts believe that at the current pace, the mobile gaming industry will generate revenue of $ 98 billion by 2024.

With the unprecedented surge in downloads, mobile games are now being introduced to a whole new audience of people who may not have been interested in games. They quickly leave the confines of entertainment and become one of our favorite pastimes.

The connection between happiness and social gaming

Above: Escape Team connects the physical and the digital.

Photo credit: Hemmert UG

One of the main reasons mobile games had such an impact during the pandemic is not only an inexpensive escape from reality, but its easy way of helping people stay social and distance themselves socially.

Party games like Escape Team, Heads Up and Words With Friends are great ways to get together, laugh and just have a good time, friends new and old. With the new reality of many of us stuck at home right now, these games can be a distraction and much-needed source of laughter at an otherwise serious time.

Another reason why mobile games are gaining traction is their “luck factor”.

A recent study has directly linked gaming to positive effects on people’s moods. The study shows that adults who play certain video games have higher levels of happiness and, in some cases, relaxation.

In addition, the study’s lead author, Professor Andrew Przybylski (the Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute) wrote that “Playing can be an activity that has positive effects on people’s mental health.”

Mobile games as social networks

Boss in Fortnite and more.

Above: Fortnite continues to grow into a larger social space.

We are now entering a new phase in the age of mobile games, where games are increasingly becoming social networks.

To put it in numbers, 56% of the most common players play multiplayer games and spend an average of 7 hours a week playing with others online. 55% of them say that video games help them keep in touch with their friends.

Comunix’s Pokerface is a notable mobile game title that has grown in popularity. It is the first group video chat Texas Poker poker game that brings people from all over the world the fun of playing live with friends and making new ones.

In this classic card game, players compete with others while participating in live group video chats. Seeing and chatting with friends who are smiling, betting and bluffing while playing together ensures an enhanced gaming experience.

Since its inception, Pokerface has seen rapid growth on iOS and Android worldwide and is now a fan favorite with casual social gamers. The game recently exceeded 2 billion minutes of video between live video chat players with an average game session of 42 minutes per day.

Epic Games’ Fortnite recently followed suit and announced the launch of live video chat features in partnership with Houseparty. The team promises to put everything on one screen, including the game itself. In other words, users can see the faces of their teammates as they compete in the virtual landscape.

Among us is another great example of a mobile game that is thriving largely because of its elements of social interaction. Many consider it a digital version of tabletop social deduction games like Werewolf and Spyfall 2.

In essence, Among Us is a simple and fun multiplayer game that supports 5-10 players who have been assigned different roles in the session. In it, extraterrestrial crew members have to perform tasks in order to obtain a spaceship and avoid being killed by those to whom the “impostors” were assigned. Players cannot chat until a death is reported. The surviving crew can chat openly about who they think is the cheater and, to the best of their knowledge, can guess who should be voted out of the ship. In most cases, it is during this basic chat function that the funniest interactions take place.

Although this game came out two years ago, Twitch streamers have picked up on it for the past few months and it has now been downloaded more than 86 million times.

Another mobile app that brings gaming and social interaction elements together is Bunch, a Discord-like video chat app for mobile multiplayer games. The number of monthly active users has increased 50 times since March and is north of a million.

If the past few months have taught us anything, by their very nature mobile games have the potential to weather tough times better than most industries and keep us closer together in an incredibly fun way!
Oren Todoros is Head of Content Marketing at Comunix. During his career, he has worked with early stage startups and global organizations to drive their business performance, growth, and return on sales.

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