The pandemic saw a notable boom throughout the mobile games market, as consumers worldwide sought out new forms of entertainment while under quarantine. Following that 2022 has widely been considered a corrective period, with many companies and markets reporting year-on-year losses. Now, Data.ai’s State of Mobile Gaming 2023 report has delved into the performance of the sector worldwide.
Japan led the way in terms of consumer spend per device on the iOS app store, with an average of $10.3. This was followed by Singapore at $8.1 and South Korea at $7.1.
South Korea pulled ahead on Google Play, with consumers spending an average of $11.2 per device, followed by $9.8 for Japan and $5.3 for Australia.
Across both app stores, this result sees Japan as the leading market overall with an average of $20.1, while South Korea came in second place at $18.3. Notably, Japan’s strong performance over the year is somewhat at odds with the country’s slow adaptation to mobile gaming.
2022 saw fewer new releases, with average downloads of past releases surpassing new releases, with average downloads of 2.51 million compared to 2.06 million in the United States. While past releases also surpassed new ones in terms of downloads in 2021, it was by a much smaller margin of 2.77 million compared to 2.69 million. The report notes that this indicates a longer life cycle for mobile games compared to those on other platforms, continuously attracting new players even to older games.
Older games also led the way in terms of monetisation. Older releases generated an average spend of $24.48 million in the United States, compared to $7.78 million for new releases.
Success across demographics
The report analyses the performance of different genres across both age and gender lines.
Younger players showed a strong preference for party, simulation, and strategy titles, with battle royale highlighted as the preferred genre for the 18-24 age group in the USA, while team battle RPG’s were the top performer among the 25-34 age group. For players between 35 and 44, location RPG’s proved to be the most popular.
Older age groups tended to prefer match 3, slots, and puzzle titles, with solitaire identified as the top performing genre among the 45+ age group.
The data does raise several interesting points regarding the 35-44 age group in particular. Notably, genre choice seems to be more evenly distributed compared to other genres, reaching neither the extreme highs or lows of other genres.
Notably, the top performing game of 2022 in the 35-44 age group is Toca Life: World, from the kids genre. This indicates that people of this age group download titles for use by children, which points to a potential inaccuracy in the data, as it doesn’t account for games downloaded for players other than the device owner. This could also account, in part, for the more even spread of genre preferences.
In terms of gender, match 3 and puzzle games proved to be the most popular among women, while men preferred sports, strategy, and shooting games. Interestingly, in every market analysed there was a notable correlation between the genres preferred by either male or female players. In the US, sports simulation games proved to be the most popular for men, while it was the least popular among women. Meanwhile, match 3 titles saw huge popularity among female players, and were identified as the least popular among men. Hypercasual music games and mafia/betrayal games were almost equally popular with both men and women, with a slight skew towards female players in both genres.
Other important factors
Publishers headquartered in China drove a third of consumer spending in 2022, despite a turbulent year which saw new restrictions imposed on the country’s gaming sector and a marked slowdown in new releases originating from the country. The report notes that overseas markets provide vital opportunities for expansion and monetisation, regardless of the size of publishers. However, the country’s publishers saw the most success in China itself, accounting for $13.966 billion of the country’s consumer spend – 97.20% of the total.
The report also notes the importance of leveraging branded keywords. Publishers can offensively target competitors’ branded keywords through paid advertising or bid in their own search terms to ward off competition, maximising their presence on the results page. Data.ai states that “the mix of branded versus generic keywords and local and English keywords vary by market,” indicating that publishers should take note of the target market in order to maximise results.
The same report also found that consumers spent an average of $1.6 billion per week on mobile gaming in 2022.