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Mobile Gaming in 2021: No Signs of Slowing Down

Posted Aug 17, 2021

COVID-19 lockdowns fueled a massive surge in demand for mobile gaming last year. More than a year into the pandemic has passed and there is no sign of this demand slowing down. Consumers are still spending a lot of time and money on mobile games even after they have returned to lives similar to those pre-pandemic.

App Annie’s 2021 Mobile Gaming Teardown Report details the continued rise of mobile gaming (in downloads and spend) and the markets that are driving growth. Here are some key takeaways from the report to keep you updated on the immense mobile game marketing and its many opportunities. 

Mobile Gaming Expected to Exceed $120B in 2021

Since 2014, spending has grown across each gaming device group. However, the growth of mobile games has surged past all the other groups. Consumer spend in mobile games is on track to surpass $120 billion. By the end of 2021, players will spend 3x more on mobile games than home game consoles. 

While consoles have long provided a premium experience for gamers, the mobile platform has been catching up. Mobile devices are now advanced enough to offer high-quality graphics and social gaming features. These types of advancements in mobile gaming have led to skyrocketing consumer spend and increased engagement. 

Downloads and Hours Spent Remain Steady a Year into the Pandemic

Increased consumer spend is not the only sign of mobile gaming’s continued success. After over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started and downloads and time spent in mobile games are still strong. Weekly downloads reached 1 billion for the first time in March 2020 and have stayed at that level since. In the first half of 2021, mobile gamers spent $1.7 billion per week, a 40% jump from before the pandemic.

Time spent in mobile games had been growing steadily in 2019 and early 2020 before hitting its peak in April 2020. The early days of lockdown saw most of the world stuck at home and global weekly consumption reached a staggering 7.1 billion hours that month. Weekly hours have since dipped but remain higher than pre-pandemic results. In July 2021, people were still spending 5 billion hours a week playing mobile games.  

India and the United States Are the Biggest Mobile Game Markets

Mobile game adoption is still climbing across the globe but emerging markets are really driving growth. India is by far the top market for mobile game downloads. In just the first half of 2021, the country amassed more than 4 billion downloads. The second-largest market was the United States which trailed behind but still accumulating more than 2 billion installs. The next on the list, Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, are primed with opportunities for both local and foreign publishers and investors. According to the report, they are expected to achieve extraordinary growth in the next few years.

Although the U.S. is not the biggest market in regards to downloads, it is the top market by consumer spend in app stores. The U.S. beat Japan by a significant margin (more than $5 billion). Asia-Pacific continues to be the world’s largest region accounting for 45% market share. Despite this continued dominance, other regions are catching up because of the rapid rise of spend in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. Additionally, Saudi Arabia and Turkey showed outstanding growth in consumer spend on mobile games, at approximately 60% and 35% respectively in 2020 compared to the year before.

Advanced connectivity, screen size, and hardware have all made it easier than ever for mobile users to access premium gaming experiences. This has brought on new gamers and retained existing players who have spent tons of money and time on the platform. Demand in mobile games will not wane anytime soon so it’s time to act and whether you’re a developer looking to monetize or a brand wanting to advertise in a burgeoning space.

About the Report
App Annie’s 2021 Mobile Gaming Teardown Report features mobile gaming market trends, industry insights, best practices, case studies on the top-performing games. This report features in-depth analyses from 20 markets — in a fresh, new interactive format allowing for deeper dives into the rich data and insights. 

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