The games industry is experiencing a shift in focus towards being ‘mobile-first’. Even game studios that have traditionally focused on developing only PC and console games are putting their resources into developing more mobile titles. This trend is supported by the stats.
Looking at revenues, mobile is the largest gaming segment and will remain so towards 2022. According to the market intelligence agency Newzoo, mobile accounted for more than 46 percent of the global games market in 2019, reaching $68.2 Billion in revenues. My own research shows that mobile gaming will be worth $106 billion by 2021. Both console and PC gaming will continue to grow at a rate of around four percent annually. However, mobile gaming is likely to grow at an even faster pace over the next few years.
Figures showing global games' market revenues
This growth – accompanied by other factors, such as the ongoing 5G rollout and emergence of cloud gaming – is seeing more premium gaming titles come to mobile. In fact, current gaming trends show that content is becoming device-agnostic. Users are moving towards playing very popular high-fidelity, multi-user games, such as Fortnite and PUBG, on mobile devices as well as their consoles. However, they are still expecting similar quality. Our role at Arm is supporting game developers as part this new shift. Providing the IP, technologies and tools that push the boundaries of graphics and optimize mobile gaming experiences.
Of course, this change needs to be powered by technological advancements. This starts with choosing a capable engine to develop a new generation of mobile games. Recently, the game and technology development company Crytek has been laying the foundation for its renowned CRYENGINE to support a full mobile tool suite. The game development platform is well-known for its industry-leading renderer, real-time lighting and optimized VR support for PC and console. Fortunately, mobile is now so powerful that many game developers are able to run mobile games off the same game engine that they use for PC and console.
The beta program of CRYENGINE on mobile is being launched later in 2020. Crytek is partnering with Google and Arm to bring the engine to the Android ecosystem first. This is seen as the first step in bringing Crytek’s games to more mobile platforms. Arm have also worked closely with Crytek and Google to ensure that Crytek’s flagship ‘Neon Noir’ demo fully utilizes Vulkan on Arm Mali to achieve outstanding graphic fidelity. We also advised on best practices for Mali and helped profile the content, identifying improvement areas and bottlenecks.
Neon Noir on mobile tech demo
Crytek have a track record of producing visually stunning games and showcases. Neon Noir is the perfect preview of the type of content that will be available on premium mobile devices. As you can see from the demo above, the overall visual experience of Neon Noir on mobile is impressive. Arm’s driver support and advanced optimization techniques enabled the demo to run seamlessly on the latest mobile hardware.
“Neon Noir was used as a graphics benchmarking standard for PC just over a year ago. The fact that this demo now runs smoothly in an excess of 30 frames per second (FPS) on mobile highlights the exponential rise in capability, compute, and visual fidelity achievable on mobile today”, says Theodor Mader, Technical Director CRYENGINE, Crytek. “Arm’s highly performant and power efficient IP, along with the vast developer resources available, makes it easy to optimize content on their architecture. This is the key to achieving such impressive results.”
The latest Samsung Galaxy S20 was used to support running the CRYENGINE game engine in Mali. Arm IP has been used in the Samsung Galaxy S series of smartphones since their creation in 2010, as documented in this blog. The Samsung Galaxy S20 is no different, running on Exynos 990 which incorporates a Mali-G77 MP11 GPU. Launched in 2019, Mali-G77 is the first premium Arm GPU based on the brand new Valhall architecture. The GPU was built with premium mobile gaming in mind. It helps to deliver high-end graphics and longer battery life on mobile, so users can play their favorite premium gaming titles for longer.
The explosion of PC and console games being adapted for mobile can be traced back to the China and India game markets. Before mobile gaming, both markets were very PC and MMORPG-centric (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). Therefore, when new generations of mobile networks and higher-performing smartphones reached these markets, many PC and MMORPG games started to be adapted for mobile. In fact, many of the most popular Chinese mobile games are now MMORPGs, with one good example being NetEase’s Fantasy Westward Journey. Likewise, the top U.S. PC games, such as Riot Game’s League of Legends, have been updated and are being played in China and other mobile gaming markets around the world.
PC and console games being adapted for mobile
As a result, the mobile games culture has fundamentally shifted. It is more hardcore-focused, with a larger more varied type and number of players. The new breed of hardcore mobile games include Fortnite, Honor of Kings and PUBG. Moreover, some of the most popular games from PC and console are now available on mobile. These include the Grand Theft auto series, Minecraft, Doom, the Final Fantasy series, Tomb Raider, Max Payne and Half Life, to name just a few. However, to enable this premium AAA gaming content, gamers need highly performant smartphones to produce high-quality mobile gaming that is in line with console experiences. This is where Arm plays a role.
The next Arm premium IP launch on 26 May will see a continuation of this strong GPU performance and efficiency story for mobile gaming. As Paul Williamson, VP and GM of Client in Arm, eluded to in the Newzoo ‘Evolution of Gaming Through 5G’ report'. If we are to enable compute-intensive premium gaming titles on mobile, then we need more performant and efficient architecture, products and solutions for SoCs on mobile. This is what we will be bringing through our latest Premium Mali GPU, so stay tuned for more details.
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