In my recent report on the Opportunities in web3 mobile gaming, I highlighted how surprisingly few blockchain games are currently taking a mobile-only approach. I wanted to quickly double-click on this topic and highlight some of the benefits of mobile-native vs. browser-first models.
Browser represents a great platform for games still in early development that have a small existing community. It just so happens that many of the Web3 projects that launched a token or NFT collection over the past 12-24 months fit this description. Additionally, the browser platform is well-suited for rapid testing/updates and allows for a full unlock of blockchain integrations. That said, it also presents a number of non-trivial challenges.
For one, browser games are a tiny market segment, representing <5% of the global gaming market. Furthermore, distribution is notoriously difficult due to increased onboarding friction compared to mobile and a lack of dedicated 3rd-party discovery sites.
Teams leading the way on mobile platforms are exposed to increased risks due to regulatory uncertainty and must face the challenges that come along with platform guidelines that limit the ability to fully leverage the advantages presented by blockchain integrations. However, in exchange, they are provided with drastically more potential users, statistically higher-paying potential users, and an established and effective UA stack at their disposal.
The advancements in WebGPU capabilities are worthy of consideration and will certainly increase the objective quality of browser-based games in the near future. Additionally, the high level of crossover between WebGL/WebGPU and Unity tool kits will allow for a “test on browser, port to mobile” approach. Ultimately, the answer to browser vs. mobile will likely come down to:
Budget – Competition on mobile is higher, and it will cost more to standout and scale
Risk tolerance – There is potentially more to lose from a mobile-first failure
Genre-market-fit – Certain genres will always suit mobile more
Blockchain Integration – The more “on-chain” a game is, the more well-suited browser becomes