The unprecedented growth of mobile gaming has taken the world by storm. Smartphones, tablets, and phablets (phone tablets) have seen a steady uptick in user numbers over the years, largely at the expense of PC gaming. From rudimentary games like Snake and Tetris to immersive titles like Fortnite and World of Warcraft, players are taking to mobile gaming in their droves. The switch to mobile is somewhat surprising, given the lack of functionality - with no keyboards, insufficient screen space, and less of an immersive effect than PC-based gaming.
Yet despite these shortcomings, mobile dominates. By 2019, industry analysts pegged the number of people playing mobile games at 2.4 billion, with China making up almost 25% at 586 million mobile players. In the US and Canada, mobile gaming is enjoyed by far fewer people, owing to population numbers, at just over 203 million players. By 2022, it is expected that the worldwide gaming industry will be worth $196 billion. Perhaps the most surprising statistic of all is this: 63% of mobile players are women.
The glut of mobile gaming options spans the full spectrum, including social casino games, online casino games, virtual games, and the like. Increasing regulation of the online casino industry has facilitated a sharp uptick in online gaming, for PC, Mac, and mobile. With states like New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan already on board, mobile gaming numbers are ballooning. Casino mobile is now the preference of players in regulated markets. While the market for online poker, online sports betting and online bingo is strong, the shift to mobile casino is outpacing the growth rates of the latter. Even social casino games are hugely popular on mobile, with 2017 figures reported by Statista of $3.46 billion for social casino revenue worldwide. 2020 figures are forecast at $616 million, and 2021 figures are forecast at $659 million.
Tapping into a Huge Market of Eager Players on the Go
In 2019, leading global stats portal, Statista estimated that the worldwide video game market was worth $150 billion, while NewZoo mobile gaming statistics found that the US industry was worth around $68.5 billion with a year-on-year growth rate hovering around 10%, comprising 45% of the global video game industry. By the end of 2022, NewZoo anticipates mobile gaming to hit a figure of $196 billion. Revenue from mobile games in the US was expected to hit $10 million by the end of 2019, thanks largely to the average American adult spending almost 4 hours per day on their mobile phones.
Notable from the mobile gaming industry is the monetary value of online gaming from the premier gaming giants. Tencent Holdings (of China) reeled in $15.6 billion for its online gaming stream according to Statista (2017 report), while Blizzard Entertainment (of the US) brought in just $2.13 billion in profit. This attests to the financial viability of the Asian mobile gaming scene. Other interesting statistics (Limelight – State of Online Gaming) reflect that mobile tops both PC and console games as the preferred medium, which is a startling change given that PC was the undisputed preference gamers since inception.
Mediakix compiled research regarding the demographics of mobile gamers, and found that 63 of every 100 gamers are females, and 60 of every 100 females played daily, compared to just 47 of every 100 for males. In terms of genre preferences, females prefer farm simulation and family-friendly games, while males prefer shooter games and sports-themed games.
The 2018 Global Games Market report by NewZoo indicates the following mobile, PC, and console gaming stats:
The same report by NewZoo found that the global gaming market would hit GGR of $174 billion by 2021, barring the recent global pandemic which will likely impact numbers to a degree. A full quarter of all game spending is generated in China, and that figure is likely to remain strong moving forward. Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and other Asian countries bring the total value of the Asia-Pacific market up to almost 50% of total global gaming spend. By the end of 2018 that figure was $66.2 billion, or 49% of the total market share. Since a huge amount of global gaming activity takes place on smartphones, many of the games are downloaded via apps (73% of app revenue comes from gaming).
- Smartphone games generated $50.0 billion
- Tablet games generated $13.2 billion
- Mobile games generated $63.2 billion
- Browser PC games brought in $4.3 billion
- Boxed/downloaded PC games reeled in $29.2 billion
- Overall PC games reeled in $33.4 billion
- Console games generated $38.3 billion
According to Statista, the most popular mobile gaming apps in the US (dated September 2019) in terms of millions of monthly users are the following top 5 selections:
Other popular mobile games in the US market include Steam Community, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Solitaire, Words with Friends, and Lucky Money. Statista also found that the number of mobile phone gamers in the US should reach 213 million by the end of 2020. Go-Globe research indicates that Android remains the dominant hardware system at 75% – 80% of global users, while iOS is the dominant system used in North America. Such was the popularity of Pokémon GO at its zenith, that it generated $1.6 million per day in revenues. While other games certainly warrant consideration, the range of mobile games is as diverse as the player base which enjoys them. This year will likely reveal strong figures for mobile gaming by the time the clock strikes Midnight on December 31, 2020!
- Google Play Games – 18.74 million monthly users
- Pokémon GO – 10.66 million monthly users
- Candy Crush Saga – 10.23 million monthly users
- GameSpot – 10.05 million monthly users
- IGN – 9.56 million monthly users