ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 15: Gaming teams compete in the ESL Mobile Open during DreamHack Atlanta 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center on November 15, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Thelen/Getty Images)

Written by Contributing Intern Matthew Carrico

The esports industry is home to many different branches that are thriving in their own ways. There is the collegiate branch home to many students looking to go professional in the competitive scene. There is also the business side of esports. Home to a variety of careers such as social media management, event planning/organization, event broadcast/commentators and many more that serve as the building blocks of the field. However, there is one particular area that is often forgotten in the grand picture of esports. That is the area of mobile gaming and esports.

What is Mobile Esports?

When esports come to mind, people think of gamers playing on their PCs or home consoles and streaming the action. Competitions like these fall into the category of what some call “traditional esports”. However, there is a bustling esports community based on mobile games. That’s right, games on your phone. The market for this branch of esports has been gaining on the rest of the industry for some time now.

Some of the most popular games on mobile include Clash Royale, Garena Free Fire, Honor of Kings, Pokémon Go and Arena of Valor. Popular PC and console titles such as Call of Duty and PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds also have wildly popular mobile titles. Mobile esports includes their own dedicated collegiate tournaments with large prize pools. One such example is the PUBG Mobile Global Championship in which the first-place prize pool was $700K USD. PUBG mobile is so popular that it’s both the top-grossing mobile battle royale shooter worldwide and the highest-grossing mobile game as of 2021.

Mobile Esports Worldwide

Mobile esports has garnered massive popularity not just here in North America but also overseas. Taking a look first to where mobile esports is currently thriving best in the east is Southeast Asia. In this region of Asia, titles such as Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends: Big Bang are seeing massive success. Audience viewership is booming as well with Mobile Legends: Big Bang reaching peak views of 3 million people. This interest has also led many traditional sports clubs, like Wolves Esports and PSG Talon Esports, to include mobile esports in their structure. 

What sticks out for mobile esports in Southeast Asia is its inclusion for official medal events in the 2022 Asian Games. This means that many mobile esports titles will receive recognition as official medal events alongside other esports titles. Games like Dota 2, FIFA and Street Fighter V will all be medal events. Finally, viewership is setting high records in these areas. In the case of one title, Free Fire, they have received a record 1.9 million views from Hindi-speaking audiences and 1.03 million from the Indonesian community.

Popularity in Brazil

Taking a look at mobile esports in the west, areas in Latin America are becoming extraordinarily prosperous for the market. Free Fire is a massive success in Brazil with its own dedicated competition the LBFF, or Liga Brasileira de Free Fire. They also recently secured a partnership with a financial services company, Santander, in order to launch a fantasy game. Many recognizable teams are taking notice of the popularity and are doing their best to enter into the LBFF. Some of the teams include Team Liquid and TSM FTX.

Free Fire is dominant in Brazil, but efforts are currently being made to introduce other major mobile titles such as Mobile Legends and League of Legends: Wild Rift. However, as it currently stands, these tournaments are too new to properly tell where they will be going in the future in Latin America-focused areas.

The Future of Mobile Esports

Mobile esports is seeing massive success in the east and west. However, it is surprising that it does not often get talked about here in the United States. Especially considering the booming market that is mobile games. Mobile esports is continuing to grow and move forward in many areas around the world. Yet there is not much news in relation to pushing forward with mobile esports in terms of competitions and collegiate settings. Estimations for the revenue for mobile esports in 2019 are $875.29 million dollars. Predictions also anticipate an increase to $1.15 billion dollars by 2025. With this much success, why is the potential for mobile esports not being fully tapped into?

Feature Photo by Chris Thelen/Getty Images