Mobile gaming is continuing its COVID-induced boom well into the Q3, with new research from app analytics and app market data firm App Annie showing a sustained remarkable surge in downloads and in-app sales.
While next-gen consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S are launching next month, we often forget that there is one gaming platform that has persisted for years since the App Store first released: the smartphone. With games like Angry Bird, Subway Surfers and others, we have titles that have survived the test of time and generational shift of consoles, continuing to perform well despite the advances in technology, graphics cards, and gaming experiences. When your console of choice is the smartphone you keep with you at all times, it’s easy to understand why COVID-19 had such a positive impact on the market with such a low barrier to entry, and why these handheld devices continue to be the most popular platform for gaming.
The latest data paints an image of prosperity
As per App Annie’s data, in Q3 2020, average weekly downloads of mobile games across the app stores hovered around 1 billion for the second straight quarter, an increase of 15% compared to a year prior.
User spend – Over $20 billion in mobile games in Q3 2020
“The mobile game industry continues to see an impressive jump in consumer spend, with over $20 billion spent on purchases through the app stores in Q3 2020 — the largest quarter ever,” Donny Kristianto, Senior Market Insights Manager at App Annie, writes. “By the end of 2020, consumer spend in mobile gaming is set to extend its lead over desktop and home console gaming to more than 2.8x and 3.1x, respectively — solidifying that mobile gaming is in a league of its own.”
Consumers spent 5% more on Games in Q3 2020 than in Q2 2020. Google Play, however, saw higher growth at 7% quarter over quarter — compared to 4% on iOS. Games also accounted for the majority of consumer spend across both stores at 80% on Google Play and 65% on iOS.
The US, Japan and South Korea were the biggest spenders on Google Play in Q3, with South Korea and Japan being the main drivers of growth. On iOS, the United States remained the largest market for consumer spend in games for the second straight quarter— previously held by China in Q1 2020 — growing 4% quarter over quarter.
iOS users downloaded around 2.6 billion games in Q3 2020, while the downloads of games on Google Play grew 20% year over year to around 11 billion downloads in Q3 2020, accounting for nearly 8 of every 10 games downloaded across the app stores. In fact, games accounted for a higher share of overall downloads on Google Play than on iOS at 45% and 30%, respectively.
In an earlier report released in August, App Annie had noted that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on mobile usage in general, finding that the pandemic had advanced mobile usage by 2 to 3 years – even with international rollouts of 5G having been hampered.
Key among the research firm’s findings were the following:
- Consumers set new records for global app store consumer spend in May 2020 at $9.6 billion;
- Consumer spend in mobile Apps and Games surpassed $50 billion in H1 2020, up 10% from H2 2019;
- The increase in consumer spend indicates consumers are not just using apps more, but deriving value from mobile services;
- While many mobile-forced companies have viewed mobile as a marketing and customer sentiment tool, consumer behavior during COVID-19 has reinforced and accelerated mobile’s role as a significant revenue driver;
- Consumers spent over 1.6 Trillion hours in H1 2020 on mobile.
The report came to the conclusion that once consumers get used to the convenience mobile offers — such as the ease of ordering groceries compared to traveling to the store and lugging bags around — mobile becomes incredibly sticky, representing a significant opportunity for businesses. So, whether through gaming or other apps, smartphones hold the key to unlocking great new opportunities for businesses.