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Mobile brings video games mainstream

Data: PwC; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Video games used to be played on big screens through expensive consoles on couches in your mom's basement. Soon, when we think of games, we'll think of our phones instead.

Driving the news: This year's E3 conference, video gaming's largest global event, shows mobile gaming on platforms scaling up and opening new media frontiers.

  • Microsoft announced upcoming tests this fall for its Project xCloud streaming service — a platform allowing users to stream high-end games on mobile devices.
  • Bethesda games is relaunching '90s hit Commander Keen as a mobile game and unveiled its new streaming service, Orion, on a mobile phone.

By the numbers: Revenues from social gaming are expected to outpace traditional console gaming in the next few years in revenue and popularity.

  • Mobile and social gaming are expected to grow nearly 7% by 2023 to $13.8 billion, per PwC.
  • Traditional, console-based gaming is expected to jump about 3% in that same span to about $15 billion.
  • 39% of the gaming population polled in a Deloitte study say they use a mobile device at least half the time.

The big picture: The future of gaming is one where casual gamers just whip out their phones and play on the go.

  • Consoles are powerful but costly and restricting, and Big Tech is building new platforms like Google's Stadia and Apple Arcade to work around them. Meanwhile, 5G will enable lower-latency streaming, which is crucial for games.
  • "Gamers, right now, don't expect the same experience when they leave the house. 5G allows you to have that — and we're only 12 to 18 months away from it," Andrew Paradise, founder of Skillz Inc., told Axios.

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