“Mobile esports” make their Asian Games debut

Even among gamers, one of the most diverse groups there is, there is a distinct gap between ‘real’ gamers and mobile gamers. The Candy Crush lot they’ve been called, or even less polite names, but one thing was clear – they were a separate group and about as far from competitive gaming as you can get.

This is no longer the case of course – esports have now started encompassing mobile games as well. What could be more proof of that than mobile games appearing as part of the world famous Asian Games?

Arena of Valor, a multiplayer online battle arena game was the game chosen to be played at the event – it was developed and published by Chinese tech and gaming giant Tencent Games. It wasn’t the only one actually – five other games also appeared as demonstration sports at the games, though none of them on mobile platforms.

Arena of valor

AoV as the game is known is essentially a 5v5 strategy game with similar gameplay to LoL – that is, the teams have to infiltrate and destroy each other’s bases. For now, both AoV and the other video games that took part in the Asian Games were only there as demonstration sports – in other words, the wins in these disciplines won’t count towards the medal total that the countries accrue throughout the competition.

For the next Asian Games in 2022, these games are already being considered as candidates to becoming ‘full’ disciplines rather than demo sports – this would be a pretty huge deal since it would essentially mean that esports have made it into the Olympics. That’s right, while the Asian Games are their own event, they are closely affiliated with the traditional Winter/Summer Games of the Olympics.

For now, mobile gamers are excited that AoV was one of the chosen sports though, as the sector of mobile gamers has gone ignored in many ways – “There has been a shift toward mobile games in esports,” said Eddy Lim, president of Indonesia eSports Association, explaining the reason for including mobile games in the Asian Games. “Mobile game [makers] have begun to make games in the esport category, which means it requires strategy and is fair… [where] winning or losing is based on strategies.”

While this change is more keenly felt in Asian-made games, it’s not exclusive to them. If nothing else, games like Fortnite and PUBG have also moved to mobiles now – while they may not match up to the ‘real’ versions, a few years ago it would have been unthinkable. To have a console version, was fairly common of course, but while companion apps existed, mobile ports were rare at best.

The success that mobile esports have already reached in Asia may not quite have reached the West yet, but it’s hard to deny that it is going to happen sooner or later – with China becoming a bigger-than-ever presence in the esports world, their influence on the billion dollar gaming market grows bigger by the day.