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In a nutshell: Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous in developed countries. With a propensity to entertain ourselves, it's no surprise that mobile gaming is incredibly popular across the globe. By 2023, mobile gaming revenue is expected to surpass the $100 billion mark. With so many people now playing games on their phones, it may come as a surprise to learn that seven of the top 10 most-played mobile games utilize bots to supplement its pool of real players.
According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, that's up from just one out of 10 back in early 2016.
One well-known mobile gaming specialist that utilizes bots is Zynga. A spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal the developer added bots to Words with Friends in 2019 to ensure players always had an opponent to compete against.
Not everyone is happy about being matched up with bots, especially when they were under the impression that they were real people.
Benjamin Arnet told the Journal he played Words with Friends with Maria T. each day for nearly a year. Arnet eventually found a list of usernames online for bots deployed in the game, and Maria T. was one of them.
"I was kind of heartbroken," Arnet said. "I thought it was an innocent old lady."
Some go so far as to outright ask their opponent via in-game chat if they are human or a bot. If you don't get a response, they could very well be a bot. But be careful how you approach the subject.
Allison Linnell, a 59-year-old in Southern California, said she was recently asked at the start of a new game if she was a bot. "I felt a little offended," she said.