Kieran Gibbs | ESPAT Media | Getty Images
Scenes from an esports tournament in London in September 2018. The event is called FaceIt Major London.
Newzoo projects that the esports industry will rake in over $1 billion in revenue by 2020, and mobile esports revenues will take a bigger slice of that pie over time given a growing worldwide presence for mobile gaming.
Mobile games currently account for over a third of the gaming market’s global revenue – a share that’s bigger than even console or PC – and the firm projects that its segment of the market will eventually account for 41 percent of the gaming industry’s revenue by 2020.
“There will actually be more smartphones and tablets than people,” Paradise told CNBC. “So when you think about what that means for the future of gaming and the future of esports, I think it has to be mobile because software will have to follow hardware.”
Part of the excitement around mobile gaming lies with what Paradise and other industry watchers have deemed the “democratization” of esports.
While most of the biggest esports leagues and tournaments feature console and PC-based games, the advent of high-quality, big mobile titles such as “Clash Royale,” “Vainglory” and “Arena of Valor” have led to professional leagues being created for mobile games.
Yet the rising popularity of mobile gaming has also led publishers and companies to focus on growing a competitive base for casual players. The seventh-highest earning player on Skillz, for instance, is a college student who Paradise said is paying their way through Harvard, using their winnings from tournaments hosted on the platform.
“It’s really crazy to think about what that’s like, and that this entire ecosystem and life wasn’t possible five years ago,” said Paradise. “As we fast forward, [we will see] bigger prize pools, more devices, more ubiquitous internet. You can see a player like that coming from out of nowhere and rising to the top sheerly by being the best.”