In 2018, the gaming table of student Matheus Lobo, 22, had an upgrade.
After six months of savings, he was able to replace his basic computer, which he used for work, with one with a better processor, graphics card and memory — components that are key to good gaming performance.
It was the beginning of the dream installation: computer with two or more screens, different controls, noise-canceling headphones, high-precision mouse.
Four years later, the gaming table has become a bedside table: this is where he leaves his finger gloves, the mobile cooler (a kind of mini-fan to cool the cell phone) and the controller where he docks his smartphone.
“In 2020, my computer broke, and maintenance was extremely expensive. I didn’t think it was viable. With the price of maintenance, I could buy a better cell phone”, he says. Since then, Matheus has played almost exclusively on his cell phone.
The behavior is a worldwide trend: in 2021, the market for games on mobile platforms (cell phones and tablets) moved US$ 93.2 billion (R$ 468.4 billion), 52% of the entire revenue of the sector. According to a NewZoo report, it is an increase of 7.3% over the previous year.
Brazil, which according to a survey by FGV has more smartphones than people, follows the same path. According to the Games Brasil Survey, carried out with 13,051 internet users between February and March this year, 48.3% of respondents who played games preferred their cell phone, an increase of 6.7 percentage points compared to last year’s survey.
Of these, 33.2% say they play on mobile devices every day; 70.7% of those who prefer mobile consider themselves casual.
Matheus, a fan of mobile games “since the snake game”, has seen the market expand in recent years. With that, although he has migrated to mobile for financial reasons, today he is on the platform by choice.
He finds it easier to show his friends news and play on the go, and he barely turns on the Xbox Series X in his living room. “Generally, games that are coming out for console are coming out for mobile”, he justifies.
There have been several companies that have entered the dispute for this audience since the French company Gameloft launched Spider-Man Unlimited, one of the most famous for mobile, in 2014, and became a pioneer in products with more complex narratives and characters for the platform.
Fortnite, the famous strategy game from Epic Games, for example, can be played from any platform — the same account can be used on computer, console or mobile and loads the player’s progress. League of Legends, the biggest success of Riot Games, has its mobile version since 2020.
There are also those that are completely smartphone-oriented, like Pokemon Go. The objective of the game, fever in 2016, is to capture the famous creatures of the cartoon, which appear on the cell phone camera through augmented reality.
In Brazil, Wildlife Studios is the leading game company focused on the mobile market. It’s the only one in the industry among unicorns — a nickname for startups with a market cap of more than $1 billion.
In the market for 17 years, the executive president of the game distributor Level Up, Gláucio Marques, says that the development of mobile games has taken a leap in the last three years, following the evolution and popularization of cell phones – and taking a ride on the digitalization of the pandemic. .
“In terms of business, we see a great opportunity”, says the businessman, although he emphasizes that, in general, on the console or computer the experience is richer, with better graphics, more interaction and eventually a faster cable internet. .
In 2018, 14% of accesses to Marques’ company’s gaming platform were mobile. In March of this year, the device was already responsible for 80% of accesses, a shift that caused changes in the team. Of the approximately 180 employees hired since 2019, 40% were in positions related to mobile or tablet services.
“My 79-year-old mother had never played and, 5 years ago, after she bought her first smartphone, she started to play daily and invests in it”, says Marques.
The next big change, he bets, will be the fifth generation of cellular network, which should arrive later this year in Brazil. “5g will boost this growth for better products. Now, we need to see how long the general population will have access. Just like the public with better cell phones, it’s a niche”, he says.
Mobile audience is more diverse
“When you go to platforms like console and computer, the gaming experience is elite”, says Carlos Silva, partner at Go Gamers. “The cell phone, the device you use in your daily life, is the same device you can play.”
According to Pesquisa Games Brasil, the audience of classes C and D, which represents 38% of console players and 41% of computer players, is 59% of smartphone and tablet players.
The cost difference became even more evident after the start of the pandemic, when the disruption of global supply chains unleashed a crisis in the microchip market – an essential component for electronics.
The dollar passing R$ 5, in an increase of 24% since the end of 2019, also does not help those who want to buy imported goods.
The survey shows that 67.1% of respondents spent less than R$1,250 in the last year on gaming equipment, well below the approximately R$2,300 needed to purchase an Xbox Series S, the cheapest console of the new generation.
The same phenomenon is observed in the investment in experience: 61.6% of respondents say they spent less than R$300 on games in the last year – the price of a first-rate Nintendo game in Brazil. Among the 17.3% who say they haven’t spent anything on games in the last year, 40.2% said they haven’t because of the price.
Despite inflation, gamers resist. In the 2022 survey, 74.5% of respondents said they used to play electronic games, a variation within the margin of error of two percentage points compared to 72% in 2021.
“The gaming audience remained very engaged,” says Silva. There were 41.7% of respondents who fully agreed about having played more during the period of social isolation.
Diversity on mobile also encompasses gender. Women are 60.4% among gamers, a scenario that is reversed on the console, where 63.9% are men. On the computer, the male audience represents 58.9% of gamers.
Immersion and graphics are the most felt differences
Social network analyst Steephanny Andrade, who discovered the world of games with Super Mario and Donkey Kong on a Super Nintendo from the 1990s, has been increasingly dedicated to cell phones. She started with more basic games, including the well-known Candy Crush puzzle, until she discovered, in 2017, the mobile version of Free Fire, an action game by the Garena studio.
Today, at age 27, she participates in a group to play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, in amateur championships, part of several events aimed only at mobile players. This year’s Mobile Pro League Brazil Spring, the game’s professional competition to which Steephany is dedicated, had a peak of 44,323 spectators, according to eSports Charts.
Although she is an enthusiast of the practicality of the mobile, Steephanny still plays for other platforms. “The immersion when I’m playing on PC or console is much greater. The graphics these days are good on the smartphone, but when you go to play that same game on a computer version, there’s a big difference. It feels like you teleport into the game”, he says.