AppsFlyer report shows major growth for mobile gaming sector as demand for gaming apps soars by 45% globally in 2020

AppsFlyer has released The State of Gaming App Marketing – 2020 Edition, a report examining the growth of the mobile gaming industry during the first three quarters of 2020. The report analysed 9.2 billion app installs to provide marketers an in-depth analysis of global data-driven insights, industry trends, and growth opportunities, as well as performance benchmarks in 16 key markets.

Games have long been the driving force of the mobile app economy, yet, the global pandemic helped mobile gaming reach an entirely new level with a 45% jump in installs globally compared to 2019 — 40% higher than last year’s growth rate.

“It’s not a surprise that we saw a massive increase in new players trying games for the first time; in particular, Hyper Casual installs surged 90% globally, including a staggering 250% in the number of marketing-driven non-organic installs,” said Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content & Mobile Insights, AppsFlyer. “What’s significant is that gaming apps realised the opportunity to accelerate their user acquisition efforts and took full advantage of this trend while in the moment. The brands that made the reactive, nimble moves to meet heightened demand dominated the stay at home peaks in gaming app engagement.”

Gaming apps were able to maintain impressive revenue figures in the months that followed lockdown by continuing to engage a large number of users who installed new games at the start of the pandemic. While in-app spending started to increase in March, it peaked in May with a 25% global increase over February 2020, and later again in July.

 Key Findings:

  • 25% increase globally in in-app purchase (IAP) revenue during COVID-19 lockdowns. The rise was driven largely by Casual games, which jumped 55% and maintained high levels of revenue through August. As mobile advertising faces challenges marketers can look more toward purchases, since there’s evidence that consumers are becoming less tolerant of in-app advertising and willing to spend more in-app.
  • IAP (In-App Purchase) revenue climbed 67% between February to August. In contrast, IAA (In-App Advertising) decreased by 16% in the same timeframe.
  • Hyper Casual games saw an increase of 250% for non-organic installs. The growth is attributed to marketers understanding that many new players were trying mobile gaming for the first time during the pandemic.
  • In-app purchasing in EMEA rose on iOS by 22% as people spent more time gaming during COVID-19 lockdowns. This was 20% higher than the overall share of paying users on Android in EMEA.
  • Easier mobile games saw higher total install growth rates. Hyper casual and casual games showed at least double the rate of growth compared to the more niche hardcore and social casino games.
  • There’s a missed opportunity for gaming apps to leverage remarketing to drive continued success. There was a 95% jump in the average revenue from paying users generated by remarketing campaigns.
  • The most significant growth factor was aggressive user acquisition (UA) early on. Large numbers of UA at the beginning of the pandemic fueled ongoing success after install decline.

“While there was an 18% increase in revenue generated from in app purchases on iOS devices during lockdowns in Europe, it’s clear that there are still areas for major growth,” said Adam Smart, Director of Product, Gaming, AppsFlyer. “Install growth and the return of big brands beyond gaming created a surge in media costs, so in order to maintain the increase in revenue generated from in app purchases, we recommend remarketing as a strategy to drive continued success.”

It’s possible that this explosive success is the “new normal” in gaming, as revenue has remained strong in 2020 while it dropped throughout 2019. However, with much uncertainty on the horizon – from the far-reaching economic effects of the pandemic, and other factors like iOS14’s changes to the App Tracking Transparency framework – it’s hard to say for certain what’s around the corner.

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