Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
After writing our a blog on the ‘History of Mobile Gaming’, we attended Game Developers conference (GDC) 2018 to a great reception from attendees. We had a demo showcasing some of the gaming devices of the past 25 years powered by Arm technology. The story resonated with many people, whether they were around when the Panasonic 3DO was released in 1993, to owning the newest of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones. No matter who you are or what you do, if you have a history of playing any sort of videos games then you could relate to the story we were telling. This year we are looking forwards the future.
The primary area where gaming now happens is on mobile devices. As an avid console user I struggle with the idea of people using their phones as their primary gaming device. However, all the statistics for this are backed up by the revenue split for the gaming industry and mobile comes out as a clear number one. When you think about it, it’s quite simple. Always on, always connected devices, hundreds of thousands of players to go up against at the touch of a download button from an app store. Mobile gaming is not only the most popular gaming segment, but it is the favourite to grow due to being the most accessible segment.
A lot of people I personally talk to actually don’t realise how much Arm technology is pervasive in their daily lives. Whenever people use computers, or anything with a microchip, there will be (very) good probability that Arm technology is powering an aspect of it. Of course, people will struggle to understand the sheer amount of Arm processors that exist in the world. Arm Cortex CPUs are probably the most recognisable product from Arm, and rightly so considering just how many of them exist in the world. Below is some of the amazing numbers that Cortex CPUs achieved in 2018 alone. When I joined Arm in 2015, they had just crossed 50 billion chips shipped in total, now they are shipping one quarter of that number year on year.
Fun fact: If someone then gave you a billion Arm chips and you gave away 1,000 each day, you would be giving Arm chips away for about 2,740 years before you got rid of your stock. Now multiply that by 23!
Of course, Arm is not only a CPU company. Amongst a lot of other great technology we also create the world’s number one shipping GPU. Arm Mali GPUs are the worlds most common GPUs in smart TVs and have a sizeable share of the mobile market, be it VR or smartphone.
Newzoo, our partners in crime when it comes to accurate and representative figures surrounding the gaming industry, regularly release gaming reports that show how dominant mobile gaming has become in overall revenue. You might remember some blogs from previous years where the estimated year on year figures are actually less than the actuals! Despite some technological disturbances, it’s a rare thing for a market to grow more than expected. Smartphones have become largest revenue sector in the gaming industry. When you have such massive titles being ported to mobile, like many popular battle royal games and they run very well on mobile, you open up the possibility of reaching such a broader audience. People who might not have a gaming PC, laptops, or consoles can also enjoy the same titles. With a little help from a Bluetooth controller, can also have the same level of control, which might be the only drawback on playing on a touchscreen.
Arm has a hefty presence at GDC this year. We go there to engage with our gaming ecosystem and show some of our efforts with partners to ease the burden of game development for who create them. These projects include work on around the Vulkan API, tooling, 64-bit and the business of game development with Arm Treasure Data.
Vulkan is poised to change the landscape of graphics and ushers in a new age of visual fidelity for Android devices. However, the API can be quite complex as there are many ways of doing the same thing. But which method is best, and which delivers maximal performance? We regularly see requests for more beginner, moderate and advanced materials and guides around Vulkan. Working with a range of developers and studios to optimize content, Arm learned a plethora of best practices that work particularly well for mobile. Over the next number of months (and years) we are going to release a number of best practices for mobile developers using Vulkan. These guides will include samples that enable hands on learning. We will be announcing this with an official blog during GDC so keep an eye on the Community.
At GDC, we announced the Vulkan Best Practices for Developers. A set of open source samples on GitHub to get you up to speed with Vulkan on Mobile.
Vulkan Best Practices for Mobile Developers
Performance is hard, especially so on mobile. And with the wide range of devices, it's challenging to maintain high frame rates across them all consistently. We have been working very hard to bring better tooling to our mobile ecosystem, and this year we have some very exciting developments around tools that you can use to increase performance of your mobile application.
At GDC, we announced Arm Mobile Studio Space Ape Games. Learn more below.
Arm Mobile Studio
Arm 64-bit processors are constantly evolving to offer maximal performance and bring a host of new modern features; enhanced security, greater compute capabilities thanks to a richer instruction set. With new game workloads taxing the 32-bit limits, the whole software ecosystem is migrating to avail of the more modern architecture's advantages. Given Google’s mandate on moving the Android ecosystem to 64-bit, developers may have some legacy 32-bit software which may need porting or new code which needs to be written.
Arm Treasure Data enterprise customer data platform enables a single, actionable view of your customer across your martech stack to drive insights that inspire loyalty. Simply put, we solve complex problems so you don’t have to. This is quite important when developing a game for mobile. Who are your customers and what can you learn about them?
The gaming industry has gone through dramatic changes in the last 10 years, but there are three trends that are likely to change things even further:
At GDC, Erik Smith gave an insightful talk in his session on “Three Technology Trends that will Shape the Next Generation of Gaming” that explored how each of the above points will change the scope of mobile gaming.
Learn more about Arm Treasure Data
As you can see, we’ve been busy creating all these projects. We look forward on giving regular updates to our Vulkan tutorials, Mobile Studio and other mobile gaming related projects over the next couple of months.