MOBA(Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) is a 5v5 battleground that usually takes about 30 minute to 1 hour to finish one game. The main objective is to destroy the enemy’s main building that is situated inside their base to achieve victory. The skill based gameplay requires a high amount of knowledge to the heroes since the skills that they have would make or break the game for you. The items also require a bit of reading, so that you know which items to buy to maximize your heroes’s potential.
Smartphones have also become one of the platforms for gaming, mobile mobas are already available in the market with the most popular one being Mobile legends Bang Bang. Although the popularity of gaming on a smartphone is not popular in the west, eastern countries are dominated providing a plethora of moba games as it is more accessible to casual players that have a busy schedule.
How the mobile gaming industry is changing the market
The rise in popularity of mobile gaming has a few reasons, it’s free, more attuned to casual players and portable as you can bring your smartphone anywhere . Unlike PC games, mobile games do not require a large storage so you don’t have to wait for hours for a game to download. The earlier games were simple; angry birds, fruit ninja, subway surfer, but the current generation of smartphones are able to handle heavy games such as emulation (psp, ps2, ds) which created the opportunity for companies to create a high quality and polished game.
But how does a company make money with a free to play aspect of their games? Their income comes in a form of micro transaction, or in app purchases. This may horrify some people but the market has a $10.2 YOY growth. By 2019, the gaming market is estimated to be worth at around $152 billion, $68.5 billion coming directly from mobile games. Moreover, in the past 18 months alone, around $9.6 billion are invested into the global gaming market industry. This means more games are coming to mobile, with higher quality games being released making mobile phones as handheld.
The rise of Mobile Legends
The game was first launched back in 2016, released by a Chinese company called Moonton. There are already a number of mobile moba on the playstore and the app store so mobile legends have to find a way for it to stand out from the rest. The competitive features of mobile gaming during that time was not popularized and most people who play other moba are hardcore mobile gamers or enthusiasts that already have prior knowledge of the game.
Mobile legends is not the first mobile moba to have an esport tournament, another excellent moba game, called Vainglory, is actually the first “true” moba that started it. Vainglory is an excellent game optimized for the smartphone, with tap controls and realistic graphics. However, due to its sheer size of around 3gb, it is a large game for people to consider downloading especially to casual gamers. Furthermore the gameplay also differs from its PC counterpart with Vainglory having a 3v3 arena instead of the usual 5v5. The game attracted a lot of attention when it was first released but it did not go so well in its later years.
Then what makes mobile legends stand out from its peers? While the game is not exactly polished and balanced, the thing that Moonton did right is through its publicity. As opposed to Vainglory, the Chinese company had a lot of ads in a lot of places, Youtube especially. The ads are cringey and at times weird, but it definitely did the trick.
The game significantly rose in popularity in 2017, with Asia (particularly southeast asia), where the title generated $307 million revenue ever since its launch. Countries such as Indonesia hold the crown for most downloaded and Malaysia proved to be Mobile Legends most profitable market, with Malaysian players spending $87.5 million in revenues.
The future of mobile legends
Moontons has made a huge profit with the game, and the patches that they released have truly updated the game to become quite balanced and polished. They also had their graphics updated and the game looks gorgeous.
New mobile MOBAs are released from time to time as other companies tried to get a slice of the pie but they never reached the popularity of mobile legends i.e. Arena Of Valor. The game is still going strong in SEA countries and it does not seem likely to go down soon.
However, Riot Games, the creator of league of legends pc, have announced that they will be releasing their own version of lol for mobile. The company had filed a copyright lawsuit against Moonton before, for the similarities between Lol and MLBB. But riot made a shocking announcement to release Lol: Wild rift, a moba for mobile and people are eager waiting for its release. Will this mark the end of the mobile legends era ? or will riot fail as well? We’ll have to wait and see.