The mobile data and analytics platform App Annie, along with the international research company IDC, published a Gaming Spotlight report with the first quarter results of 2021. Consumer spending on mobile games for iOS and Google Play amounted to $1.7 billion per week. This is 40% more than before the pandemic.
So, the trend of increased demand for mobile games caused by COVID-19 did not go down even after the restrictions were relaxed. According to the report, 30% more games were downloaded in the first quarter of 2021 than in the fourth quarter of 2019 (over 1 billion games per week in total).
Now, mobile games occupy the first place in popularity compared with other platforms. Based on forecasts, in 2021, consumers will spend 50% more on mobile games than on PCs and game consoles. Since the beginning of the pandemic, spending on mobile games has increased 2.9 times in comparison with PCs, and 3.1 times compared with game consoles.
In North America and Western Europe, the United States and Germany markets spent the most on mobile games in the first quarter. Half of the financial expenditure was in the Asia-Pacific region. Beyond its borders, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have become world leaders.
The App Annie report highlights the connection between mobile games and consoles. Due to the fact that the technical capabilities of smartphones are growing, their graphics and gameplay can provide players with the same experience as consoles. In addition, cross-platform capabilities are quite important. The most profitable games, such as Lineage M, Lords Mobile, Roblox and PUB Mobile, include such capabilities. This increases the user lifecycle and gives more potential for monetization.
The most profitable mobile game in the first quarter of 2021 was Roblox, which is available for both iOS and Google Play. This means that online features are important for users, for example, the ability to play in a team and against other players. The second most popular and profitable was Genshin Impact, which recently received the Apple Design Award for visual experience. This fact also underlines the importance of cross-platform capabilities: the game has become a bestseller not only for smartphones, but also for PCs and consoles.
If we talk about genres, the biggest increase in the number of downloads was shown by hyper casual games (+6.7 points), children’s games (+1 point), simulators (+0.6 points) and racing (+0.3 points).
The download of companion apps for game consoles has naturally increased. My Nintendo, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation App, Steam, Nintendo Switch and Xbox apps in the United States were mostly downloaded in April last year. However, the download rate is also higher now than before the pandemic.
In addition, the report paid particular attention to advertising in mobile games. It turned out that the attitude of users towards it has improved (if we compare the fourth quarters of 2020 and 2019). Rewarded videos remain the most popular type of advertising in the United States.
Streaming has contributed to user engagement and monetization. It became popular a year before the pandemic, and in April of this year, engagement per user on sites such as Discord and Twitch reached its maximum.
App Games Managing Director Annie Jane Yu points out that mobile games will remain the largest and strongest growth vertical in the application industry. This will be facilitated by cross-platform functionality, which will allow every mobile user to get a console-level experience.