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Mobile Monday: 53% of U.S. Population Will be Digital Gamers in 2021, Mobile is the Most Popular Device for Gaming

Posted Mar 28, 2021

Every Monday we cover the latest research and news in the mobile world. We regularly share stories about the growth of mobile gaming and this week we’re giving another update. eMarketer published a comprehensive report on digital gaming which revealed that it continues to grow and mobile is the most popular device for gaming. Check out the highlights from that report in this week’s Mobile Monday!

The Pandemic Escalated the Growth Rate of Digital Gamers

eMarketer’s recent report, The U.S. Gaming Ecosystem 2021, details consumer usage and viewership across the gaming landscape. The research firm expects there will be approximately 178 million monthly gamers in the U.S. this year, up only 1.1% from 2020. This total would amount to over 53% of the population. Stay-at-home measures had a major effect on the growth of digital gamers. Consumers were spending much more time at home and were gaming for entertainment, social interaction, and escapism.

The number of digital gamers has grown 5.7% since 2019 which seems small but that’s more monthly users compared to digital viewers and digital audio listeners. Additionally, research from CivicScience, U.S. gamers who play daily went from 33% in February 2020 to 39% in April 2020. eMarketer predicts that monthly digital gaming usage will see minimal growth in the next few years. With more than half of the U.S. population already being monthly gamers, the penetration rate is fairly high, and much of the audience that gaming could have captured over a period of several years was condensed to 2020.

Mobile Will See User Growth in 2021

According to eMarketer’s report, mobile is the most popular device for gaming. Just under 90% of U.S. digital gamers are playing on mobile and the total number of monthly users is expected to reach 159 million. Desktop/laptop is the second most popular device with 55% of digital gamers playing on that platform. Monthly mobile gaming users is forecasted to increase by 1.2% this year. While this is modest growth, mobile gaming will still grow faster than digital console gamers (0.8% growth).

US Smartphone Gaming App Users, 2019-2023 (millions, % change, and % of mobile phone gamers)

Almost all mobile gamers play on smartphone gaming apps. 98.9% of mobile phone gamers are playing on smartphone gaming apps. eMarketer believes there will be 157.3 million monthly smartphone gaming app users which is up 1.3% from 2020. Both new mobile gaming growth and increased playtime from current games caused time spent with mobile gaming to surge during the pandemic. The report says consumers spent an average of 27.3 minutes with mobile gaming apps per day in 2020, which was up by 16.8% from 2019.

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