The Evolution and Growth of High-Fidelity Gaming
Arm’s Steve Winburn discusses the growth and latest trends in high-fidelity mobile gaming
The mobile gaming market has become one of the fastest growing areas in tech. Globally, 94% of gamers now play on mobile and this growth in popularity is only going to get stronger with the advancement of new technologies such as 5G. To get some deeper insight into this growth, Arm commissioned a report by Newzoo to delve into the high-fidelity mobile gaming market.
In this episode, Geof Wheelwright is joined by Arm’s gaming expert Steve Winburn. Join us as the pair discuss the findings from the report, the latest developments and trends in the mobile gaming market, Arm’s collaboration with game developers and predictions on where the gaming market is heading in the future.
Report: Next-Generation Mobile Games
Blog: What’s Driving High-Fidelity Mobile Gaming?
Geof Wheelwright, Arm Viewpoints Host
Geof has worked as a journalist, author, broadcaster and consultant for more than three decades – and in a variety of technical content management, corporate communications and senior management roles at several technology companies. He has contributed to a broad range of media outlets – including The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Canada’s National Post, Time Magazine, Newsweek and a number of specialist technology industry sites (such as Geekwire) and Travel titles (including Travel + Leisure).
Steve Winburn, Senior Manager, Ecosystems, Arm
Steve Winburn is the Head of Developer Relations, Advocacy and Graphics Engineering team for the Client team at Arm. Steve has been working in the game and graphics industry for 20 plus years at various game publishers and hardware developers. He is responsible for developing Arm’s strategy, solutions, and partnerships for the gaming ecosystem. As well as providing analysis, insight, and foresight on all things gaming and graphics.
Geof Wheelwright: We are back with another Arm Viewpoints podcast. And today we’re going to talk about the business of fun. We’ll look at the latest developments and trends in the mobile gaming market, including findings from a recent joint report produced by games and e-sports analytics and market research from NewZoo and Arm, as well as Arm’s role with games, developers and predictions on where the gaming market is headed in the future. We’re calling this episode, The Evolution and Growth of High-fidelity Gaming. With me to talk about all this today is Steve Winburn . Head of developer relations, advocacy, and graphics engineering for that Client team at Arm. Steve has been working in the game and graphics industry for 20 plus years at various game publishers and hardware developers. He is responsible for developing Arm’s strategy, solutions and partnerships for the gaming ecosystem. He also provides analysis insight and foresight on all things, gaming and graphics. Welcome to you, Steve
Steve Winburn: Thank you very much. We’re looking forward
Geof Wheelwright: We’re looking forward to a great discussion. So given that we’re going to have fun with this today. Maybe we can start by talking a little bit about the history of the mobile gaming market and reminding people just how far we’ve come from the early days in the 1990s?
Steve Winburn: All of this kicked off in the mid to late nineties. People really wanting to take a lot of the great games that we’re seeing in the PC space and be able to be mobile with them. So when you look at games like Tetris and things that were very popular and those becoming some of the first great games to see on mobile. And then of course in 97, where were a snake made its debut on a Nokia handset. People were really able to play a device and play a game and have that freedom. And over the years, right? When you look at things that followed for Wi-Fi and 3G and be able to download and play different mobile games. And then you eventually got into the early two thousands, where Nokia was able to put out the N-Gage device, I’m not sure if you remember that, but it was a great device.
You got to see a ton of new titles from, Space Invaders and Alien Fish and, things of that nature, all pop up. And it was one of the first Arm Mali based devices that popped out in that timeframe as well. A few years later, right before the invention of the smartphone and was from LG, I believe that was 2007.
And then right after that of course, in 2007 and 2008, you saw the app stores were launched and that really pushed mobile gaming over the top. Especially when you saw what happened with the GPU’s and that nature and I know it was in 2008 when Arm Mali became one of the first multicore GPU’s and allowed even mobile gaming to really jump to the next levels and be able to take on bigger titles and be able to take on a lot more of the popular games that were out there. And it really made a difference. Especially when you look at what the app store is. There’s, millions of apps and games that are available now.
And it’s amazing where we’ve come as we talked about those years of 2008, you look at Angry Birds, you look at Plants for Zombies, you look at you look at Candy Crush. These type of games were amazing. And then Pokemon Go and that all starts, like you said, back in 97 with snake on a Nokia 6610, and then it jumps to where Arm Mali is allowing people to have this kind of power in 2008 to play all of these kinds of amazing titles.
So it’s absolutely astounding when you think about just that short window of time and where we’ve come from and what you can do on a mobile device now. And in the next few years as you continue to see major graphics updates on APIs with OpenGL ES and Vulcan and things that have come along at the same time it’s just astounding and it’s going to just simply continue.
Geof Wheelwright: So maybe we can now turn to Arm’s role in the mobile gaming and high fidelity gaming market and hear more about what you’re doing to support mobile game developers?
Steve Winburn: There is an obvious and an immense appetite from consumers, for more powerful mobile devices being able to support premium experiences, being able to support premium gaming. And that’s what Arm is really working on with our Mali GPUs. We’re looking to really deliver high quality and some of the best gaming performance and graphics features we can to the mobile space. Mali is the leading GPU and it is really one of the most pervasive across mobile devices.
We have over a billion shipped by our partners in the past year and it’s the largest target space for game developers out there. When you look at what technologies in the Mali we look at things like our recent launches for the Mali-G78 and Mali-G710 and they are simply really powering a whole line of mobile devices and really helping drive gaming trends around graphics performance, along premium smartphones and just some of the amazing features that they’re allowing developers to optimize for and to be able to bring to market. That along with our mobile studio it really helps developers tweak and optimize for those devices on our tool sets and gives them a very positive and strong gaming experience.
And that’s one of the big focus that that Arm is trying to really enable the market and the ecosystem.
Geof Wheelwright: Great. And speaking of enabling the market we talked off the top about a report you’ve done with Newzoo about next generation mobile games and the impact of cross-platform gaming. Maybe you could tell me a bit more about that?
Steve Winburn: I know. And it was the last couple of years, I believe it was about 2017, when you look, as you said, NewZoo and Arm partnered, and we did a market report on high-fidelity gaming which really showed the mobile game market and the growth potential, and just the the overall places like China and the US and then the world. So this year we wanted to get another pulse check. We wanted to look at the market. We wanted to see what people were thinking and where it was going. So gaming now, outperforms PC and console combined. It’s the largest market there is. When you think about that globally 94% of all games play on mobile now, which has been a growing rate of about 5.3%. And in 2020, almost half of global games and revenues came from mobile, which is a staggering $86.9 billion. The mobile space is bigger than film, it’s bigger than music and it’s bigger than all of that combined. And it’s continuing to grow. In this space, China has really the feeling that growth there. They’re the largest, they’re the largest market. It has 50% of worldwide revenue there. And North America follows that up with about a quarter. And then you have the splits between Latin America and Europe and Africa, the Middle East and the rest of the world. What’s amazing though, is it’s growing in every one of those places. So it’s growing in China, it’s growing in the US it’s growing in and these other countries where the splits are a little smaller. And that’s because of the freedom people have on these mobile platforms. And because of the technology. The other rising trend across platform games and in the kind of the PC console franchises is all of those are moving to the mobile space, right? They, mobile gamers are increasingly looking for those types of experiences on touchscreen devices. They are always looking to see what the next title is going to jump from the console or PC space and become cross-platform or be playable, and high-fidelity mobile gaming is really, like I said, as you, as I mentioned, it’s growing across all the markets.
And as I mentioned a second ago, I think China has showing the strongest growth. They’ve got 70% of the gaming revenues on high fatality games. and there’s another 40 or 50% in North America. And, it’s grown from 33% up to what it is currently in north America, which is amazing. When you think about that over the last couple of years, and then in Europe, it’s also grown that it was once I believe, 7% in Europe and it’s now 37%.
So when you look at those numbers and realize that your entire player base has changed as well, right? It’s not like everyone’s sitting at home chained to a console or a PC it’s people running around on a mobile device, on the train in the street, in the cafe, the growth has really been made very possible and very popular because of high-fidelity games, like Honor of Kings and Pub (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) and Call of Duty. And when you see those things playable on some of these premium smartphones and things, Mali has driven, it’s amazing when you see that kind of quality, on that device. And I think that’s what, people are getting used to and are very thrilled about and why you’re seeing that growth.
Geof Wheelwright: Wow, there’s two things that jump out at me for it. $86.9 billion. That is just a staggering number. Yes. And the other thing that jumps out at me is that the number of titles that you have, as you say, that are making their way from PC to mobile and it also seems like this cross platform publishing we’ve been talking about where publishers are able to port their games to numerous formats at once is a big part about this. So maybe we can talk a bit more about that and other trends that you’re seeing in the market.
Steve Winburn: Sure. Yeah. Very happy to yeah, that’s a key one along with high fidelity gaming, as you mentioned, Geof it’s you’re seeing more and more PC and console publishers and titles focusing on mobile gaming, they realize. Hey, that’s where the revenue is, they realize that’s where the players are are going. And they’re also you’re seeing those titles that can be created on mobile with, minimal effort with some of that IP. They’ve found the ability now to build something once and have it stretched across multiple platforms, or they’ve been able to now because of the performance of the devices.
Bringing able to bring that IP with much less effort over to a mobile device. Especially with the current generation of high-performance on premium phones, it’s really lowered the barrier for entry there. You have the ability to have, a game like I talked about in PubG be playable on some of these premium devices where a few years ago wouldn’t have happened. You wouldn’t have been able to have that kind of performance and that’s been amazing. And some of these studios see it, right? These, they recognize the whole value of the mobile market. When you look at some of the examples and some of the partners we’ve worked with, you look at King, they’ve done, titles on console, like Crash Bandicoot, they moved that over to mobile and it was because of the performance in the mobile and Arm Mali. It was because of Arm Mobile Studio allowing them to have those tools and so it brought the game to a whole new audience and it brought that audience that are no longer on consoles and those that never even saw it on the console.
And in partners like War Gaming who’ve had really dedicated PC titles. If you think about a lot of their World of Tanks and all of those things mobile has basically given them the ability to deliver an entire new style of gameplay and a full-size experience of that game on a mobile device that they never thought was going to be possible because it was always on a PC. And, those are the types of things that these studios are thrilled about. Or you look at another partner like Riot Games, they were always PC only and they only publish PC only. They have three titles on mobile now and their entire future strategy, is looking at mobile because they can offer more handheld gaming, than consoles and they realized that’s where the market’s leaning. So it’s really great times to be able to have all of that coming down with cross-platform along with high-fidelity gaming, is just just outstanding. I can’t wait to see what’s next there.
Geof Wheelwright: I imagine a key part of this, the future success of what you’re describing in mobile gaming is arm’s engagement and your role with the mobile game developer community. So maybe you could talk a bit about what arm’s doing in that area?
Steve Winburn: When you look at this space it’s a very diverse market, as I’m sure you’re probably aware, right? You have you have developers and publishers all looking for a different piece of that pie and so with our IP, Arm is looking to deliver a total gaming experience, right? We are trying to work with the game engines. We are trying to work with studios. We are trying to work with developers, and publishers, and really optimize the gameplay and performance on mobile through the various new graphics technologies through our tools like mobile studio through and our developer education resources. We take great pains to be able to tie other developers together to on sharing these types of best practices and drive the market that way. So it’s allowed us, like I said, to use Mobile Studio, and help game studios like War Gaming and King to optimize their games for mobile. As we just talked about, it’s allowed us to reach out to a studio and say, Hey, here’s a best practice.
If you didn’t know how to do this and give them kind of an edge doing that. And when you look at things like, yes, we, as we mentioned a minute ago where I mentioned where to go you look at War Gaming, mobile studio, basically let us. Help war gaming with its CI workflow, right? It brought him out some tremendous cost savings. It helped their performance. It helped them target the entire game to mobile for that. And it was a great achievement because previously they wouldn’t have ever been able to manage that on their own. And being able to do that with our tools and our technology and our developer education was beneficial, not just to them, it’s beneficial to the whole market and the players. They brought in beneficial to Arm as a whole. And the same thing goes for partners. When you look at King and what we were able to do with them for Crash Bandicoot, the performance gains were really significant. You saw, not just jumps in frames per second, but the graphics were sharper. The gameplay was, you didn’t have the lagging that would go on and a lot of mobile devices. So just being able, like I said, to help them optimize for them helped them use our tools, help them be able to reach new markets. It’s really, helped us grow the community. It’s helped us improve the ecosystem and it’s helped us bring mobile gaming to everybody.
And that’s the whole, that’s the whole part, that’s the best joy of that as being able to realize that people who didn’t necessarily play or didn’t think they could do it on a phone now can, and to see them have that kind of enjoyment and bring these other titles to the market has been just wonderful.
And then you look at our partnerships like we talked about with the engines, we’ve got a great partnership with Unity. They power 50% of the game content across all platforms, they deliver fabulous software and tools. And so we have gone in with our developer education from that side to provide a lot of unity developers gaming best practices, artists best practices, lighting best practices. We’ve also helped with innovations on such things as Dots, which is Unity’s Data Oriented Technology Stack along with our universal render pipeline, which has enabled developers to really handle some of the complexity and requirements of operating and creating games.
We’ve been able to focus that, that way with a major engine developer, owner developer education and provide that kind of input. And we’ve seen that how some, just some great reach and the partnership has been invaluable. And that’s how we’re trying to continue to grow things just across the entire community.
Geof Wheelwright: You’ve outlined a pretty exciting here in now. So why don’t we level up and then talk about how the high fidelity gave me market evolves in the future. What really excites you as we look ahead to the next few years?
Steve Winburn: I think we’re going to continue to see a lot of, first of all, a lot of the PC and console titles continue to come to the mobile space. That’s one of the first thing that excites me, when you start to think about a lot of things that have always been restricted and you’ll now get to play that on a mobile device. That’s just really amazing when you look at those titles moving over and you see these premium experiences happening.
You’re going to notice that cloud gaming is rolling out more. You’re going to notice that 5G across all these global networks are enabling people to not only finally have an internet connection but it’s going to open their whole world to what gaming does and see how that kind of enjoyment, You’re going to end up having, tremendous ability to have multiplayer events and tournaments without that kind of lag.
You’re going to see a very disruptive service to the PC and console market. When I know I have a device in my hand that has 5G and I can play like I’m home, hardwired in on my console, that’s going to really change the way everybody looks at things. You’re going to also see the social activity. I believe continue to change. It’s going to have interactions with people, communicating with other players around the world and how we talk and interact with people. I think when all of that happens and we get into more AR and AI and we have those immersive evolving game experiences you’re going to continue to see the world shrink if you would. Of, when you’re in that you’re in that environment, you’re in that game, the whole role is going to come a little smaller, being able to talk to everybody around you, which is really great. Cause the closer we can all get and we can all maybe work a little smarter together on these things.
But, you’re going to continue also, I think, you’re going to see graphics quality CGI that you see in films or animation. You’re going to continue to see that be powered by mobile devices. As the technology continues to prove as games move as 5G as enabled, as Mali continues to become more powerful in the GPU’s. Definitely continue to pick up feature sets. ray tracing will become important, mobile gaming will open up to a lot more of these realistic graphics and post-processing effects, you will see better lighting, you will see more complex geometry. You will see a better shading and textures and particle effects, et cetera. There’s just a ton of this kind of stuff that we’ll continue to roll into mobile gaming. You’ll start to see the blend eventually between AI and VR and AR gaming. As those things become powerful] enough, the devices are more powerful. You see these features on the phones, that, that film quality type of feature come to come to this kind of device.
And these are all the things that, we think about here. And we look at, and what Arm is really trying to design its premium Arm Mali GPU is for so that we can enable the market for when this happens.
Geof Wheelwright: Very impressive Steve, I can’t wait to be able to play all those amazing games on the platforms you described.
Clearly a great deal of fun lies ahead, and don’t forget to take a look at Arm and Newzoo’s in-depth report about the current status of the mobile gaming industry. Please visit the gaming solutions page on arm.com. That wraps up this episode and we look forward to providing more cool glimpses into the future soon in the next episode of arm viewpoints.
Thanks for listening today. We hope you enjoyed it.