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Room for Growth in Daily Session Time of Many Mobile Games

Posted Aug 18, 2015

Engagement and retention:  the more mobile game publishers optimize for these metrics, the more successful they typically are. While it’s exciting to see average session duration increase after the implementation of a rewarded video or other retention device, publishers are often left wondering how well they are capitalizing on their users’ time.

To put it in perspective, eMarketer recently released a Mobile Games report that included the average weekly time spent playing mobile games according to US mobile gamers. The breakout is as follows:

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According to this data, 39% of mobile gamers play for 5+ hours per week at an average of 84 minutes per day. Overall, mobile gamers average 43.7 minutes of mobile gameplay per day.

Meanwhile, Statista reports that the average mobile game session time is 6.8 minutes, which equates to 15% of a given user’s daily total time spent in mobile games. While a given app may be content with claiming 15% of a user’s mobile gaming time, even more opportunities for session time growth exists:

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Based on additional data released by eMarketer, mobile games account for just 16% of a user’s daily mobile phone usage. Granted, it must be noted that an undetermined amount of the “Other” time listed may tie back to casual games due to under-reporting of casual titles deemed not “real” games by numerous respondents. As a UK game developer told eMarketer:

“If you go and look at anybody’s phone – anybody’s smartphone – there are games on them. But if you ask them if they are a gamer, they’ll say no, because they don’t see themselves as gamers.”

Indeed, eMarketer reported a similar sentiment among survey respondents, noting that “survey-based data for mobile gaming may underestimate the size of the market because the term ‘gaming’ is still associated in many people’s minds with console games.”

This caveat aside, 54% of user time is spent in uncommitted activities such as casual browsing and the aforementioned “other” category. With the majority of user time not otherwise to devoted to communication, entertainment, social, or gaming activities, there is a real and substantive potential for mobile game publishers to claim longer and more frequent sessions from their users.

Simply put, publishers could help users reduce the time they spend searching for content (25%) by better conveying the content they already have available, thereby encouraging a user to stay within the app, or return to it for fresh content, more lives, etc.

As we covered last week, the top four reasons users return to an app are predominately within publisher control:

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With such a large amount of mobile user time in flux, leveraging in-app promotions and notifications is essential for any mobile game developer looking to improve their total daily session time.

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