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The Mobile Gaming Experience: Motivations and Multitasking

Posted Oct 5, 2020

At this point, we’ve established that mobile gaming is ubiquitous. Whether they self-identify with the label or not, gamers span generations, genders, income brackets, education levels, geographies, and almost every other socio-economic-demographic split imaginable. While mobile gaming is popular across demographics, the gaming experience and the motivation to engage with mobile games differ greatly between users. 

In AdColony’s Modern Mobile Gamer study, U.S. consumers were asked what else they did while playing mobile games and why they play. Below, we will take a look at key demographic buckets and explore similarities and differences.

Motivation to Play

The number one motivation for users to play mobile games is entertainment. This holds true across all ages, income brackets, education levels, and geographies. People are playing games to have a good time. 

When broken down by age, it is clear that the younger demographics, 18-24 and 25-34, are the driving forces behind both entertainment and passing the time. These age brackets are overwhelmingly utilizing mobile gaming as a way to stay engaged in an enjoyable way.

The Question of Multitasking

So, are players multitasking while playing games? For 68%, the answer is yes and falls somewhere between sometimes and always. When asked, the largest percentage of respondents answered with “often” at 28%, followed by “sometimes” at 25%. The next largest response was “never” at 19%, which means that approximately one-fifth of the audience has exclusive engagement with mobile games.

That being said, even when multitasking, the mobile game itself commands the lion’s share of engagement while being played. Users must engage visually and physically to move gameplay forward.

A Case of Generational Differences

When broken down by age, the differences in behavior by generation are brought to light. Unsurprisingly, “always/often” peaks at 18-24 years old and steadily declines as the age brackets increase. On the flip side, “rarely/never” peaks at 75+ years of age and declines as the age brackets decrease. Gen Z and Millennial generations have had smartphones at their disposal for the majority of their adult lives, if not their whole lives. They’ve grown accustomed to looking at multiple screens and toggling between numerous devices. Multitasking is an expected way of life. Alternatively, older generations are more accustomed to partaking in discrete activities and then switching their attention.

So, What Else Are They Doing While Playing? 

For the vast majority, the answer is “watching TV.” Overall, when given the opportunity to select as many answers as needed, 60% of respondents chose “watching TV.” The only other two responses that garnered more than 20% were “listening to music” and “eating or cooking,” at 46% and 38% respectively.

What Does this Mean from an Advertising Perspective for your Brand? 

Mobile gaming is an effective way to capture audience attention and drive engagement with a brand’s content. TV is increasingly becoming the second screen for consumers. As mentioned earlier, mobile games command the lion’s share of engagement. Even while watching television, users are looking at mobile devices and physically interacting with them to move games forward. As a result, the TV becomes the background noise while mobile games are the focus. Regardless of what is going on in the background, your phone and thus your mobile game, have made the transition to the “first” screen — the most valuable position for advertisers.

Want to learn more about how mobile gamers are multitasking? Download the full report! The Modern Mobile Gamer Report has data on chart-topping game genres, who identifies as a gamer, and much more! 

About the Study
The survey was developed by AdColony and DISQO and distributed online to a nationally representative sample of DISQO Audience members within the United States via the Survey Junkie platform, which is wholly owned by DISQO. The survey was taken on both desktop and mobile devices, garnering a total of 1,208 responses over a fourteen-day period in Q2 of 2020. As each respondent was a member of DISQO’s 100% first-party opt-in research audience, responses were verified against fraud and were compiled against known and validated demographic information, enabling a rich, cohorted analysis by age, gender, education level, household income, and more. 

Join the Conversation
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