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UPDATE February 6, 2019 — The global gaming market is expected to exceed $180 billion in revenues in 2021, growing 30.6% from $137.9 billion in 2018. At $70.3 billion, the mobile gaming industry accounts for more than half of all global gaming revenue in 2018. Additionally, mobile gaming apps accounted for 76% of all app revenue, down from 82% in 2017 as non-gaming apps continue to improve monetization.
The growth of the mobile gaming industry has also given birth to emerging classes of gamers on top of driving up time spent and play frequency from previously existing demographics. Today, mobile games are becoming increasingly more popular among women and older consumers are playing more frequently than teens.
The rise of mobile technology has formed a perfect foundation for the mobile gaming industry’s success. A person can now fit a video game in their pocket and take it with them anywhere. Specific advancements like unlimited data plans, faster processing speeds, and higher quality graphics have also set the stage for more engaging gameplay than previously possible.
The success of the mobile gaming industry has not only attracted new audiences but also the attention of new game franchises, content creators, gaming influencers, and an influx of ad dollars from brands of all types seeking to reach a global gaming audience. In our mobile gaming industry infographic, we’ll explore the industry from top to bottom: its growth, size, customers, and more.
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The mobile gaming industry has proven it’s on track to increase market share, with the global industry projected to reach $106 billion by 2021. In 2012, the mobile gaming raked in $12.7 billion globally, meaning the industry will increase revenue by more than 730% over the course of nine years.
Mobile gaming is also projected to dominate all other sectors of gaming. By 2021, mobile gaming (which includes tablets) is expected to account for over half (59%) of the entire gaming market. Comparably, console games and boxed/downloaded PC games are expected to make up 22% and 19% of the global games market, respectively.
The financial success of mobile gaming is also competitive with other industries and brands. For a bit of context, the global mobile gaming market generated $70.3 billion in revenue during 2018, nearly $30 billion more than the worldwide box office revenue of $41.7 billion.
Mobile gaming revenue also eclipsed the predicted U.S. spend of $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Perhaps most shockingly, the mobile gaming industry generated about $13 billion more than Costa Rica’s 2018 GDP of $57.06 billion.
In the U.S., the former top grossing iPhone mobile gaming app Candy Crush Saga has been overtaken by Fortnite and Pokemon GO. As of December 2018, Pokemon GO generated $1.4 million in daily revenue, with Fortnite following closely at $1.3 million daily revenue.
The original Candy Crush Saga was released in 2012 and now generates $1.1 million in daily revenue, or $403 million each year—down from $2.2 million daily revenue last year.
The game has since spun-off into Candy Crush Soda Saga (2014), Candy Crush Jelly Saga (2015), and Candy Crush Friends Saga (2018). Across the four Candy Crush mobile games, players worldwide spend $945 million, $443 million, $90 million, and $3 million, respectively. The easy-to-learn format of the Candy Crush mobile games and the fact that all games are free for download are two factors contributing to their broad appeal.
Additionally, the success of Candy Crush also aligns with the popularity of mobile gaming categories. A 2017 study investigating the popularity of ten mobile gaming categories found that 59% of mobile gamers play puzzle games like Candy Crush. The same study found strategy games to be the second most popular genre, which 38% of respondents reported playing.
To generate revenue, Pokemon GO uses “sponsored locations” and players can buy in-game virtual goods. Fortnite offers players the chance to buy in-game currency and rewards with the purchase of a “battle pass.” Candy Crush, ROBLOX, and Toon Blast use a combination of display ads and in-app purchases. The top five grossing mobile gaming apps are all free for download, offer in-app purchases, and are available on iPhone and Android.
As mobile technology advances and adoption continues, consumers are not only spending an increasing amount of time on social media but devoting more time to mobile gaming apps.
Of the 3 hours and 35 minutes that U.S. adults spend using a mobile device daily in 2018, 23 minutes (nearly 11%) are spent playing mobile games. According to the CDC, this amounts roughly to 2.7 hours of mobile gameplay a week, 5.8 days a year, and 1.3 years of the average person’s lifetime.
Though the average adult gamer already spends 23 minutes a day playing mobile games, the time heavy mobile gamers dedicate to mobile games is significantly larger. On average, heavy gamers spend more than 5 hours per week playing mobile games, with female gamers aged 38.6 accounting for 52% of heavy mobile gamers. This means avid mobile gamers could spend between 12-16 entire days per year devoted to playing mobile games.
As of 2018, there are approximately 2.2 billion mobile gamers worldwide. The U.S. share of mobile gamers had previously been projected to reach 202.8 million in 2018—more than half of the country’s population.
In 2019, the U.S. mobile gaming population is expected to reach 209.5 million, exhibiting a year-over-year growth rate of 3%. Though the rate of mobile game adoption is expected to decrease slightly, the total number of U.S. mobile gamers is predicted to rise to 213 million by 2020.
The world’s mobile gaming population is expected to rise from 2.2 billion in 2018 to over 2.7 billion by 2021. China is one of the countries where mobile gaming is most popular, with 459 million total mobile gamers—the equivalent to the U.S and Japan’s populations combined. In 2018, China’s mobile gaming market accounted for more than 25% of global revenue.
Though one might expect teens to make up the largest subset of mobile gamers, mobile gaming use is dominated by middle-aged females. Today, 63% of mobile gamers are female and 37% are male. Additionally, of the female mobile gamers, 60% play a mobile game every day. Comparably, only 47% of male mobile gamers play a mobile game every day. Females are also more willing than males to pay for mobile games. As such, male gamers are considered 31% less valuable than female gamers.
In regards to age, the largest portion of mobile gamers are aged 55-years and older (23%) and the smallest portion is made up of 13-17-year-olds (8%). The second largest portion consists of 25-34-year-olds (21%).
Across age and gender subsets, mobile gamers are extremely active, with 56% of mobile gamers reporting playing mobile games 10+ times a week. Still impressive, 19% of gamers report playing mobile games 6-9 times every week.
Mobile device ubiquity and mobile gaming’s dominance of the entire global gaming industry are two converging trends noted by marketers, brands, and advertisers. According to VentureBeat, brands realize the viability of advertising to mobile game app audiences in a variety of novel ways (e.g. playable brand ads, branded integrations, custom characters, or levels).
As the mobile gaming industry becomes increasingly competitive and saturated, several top gaming brands are turning to influencer marketing to drive downloads, reach, and awareness (with some companies apportioning the vast majority of advertising spend on social media influencers).
Growing mobile gaming audiences present advertisers with massive opportunity—understanding how to best reach these varied and distinct demographics will ultimately help advertisers craft a successful influencer marketing strategy.