Hyper Casual Games Continue Rising as COVID-19 Impacts Mobile Behavior

Scrabble Go - Scopely Publicity- H 2020
Courtesy of Scopely

'Scrabble GO' and 'Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp' were among the consumer favorites.

Amid stay-at-home orders mandated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, time spent playing mobile games has skyrocketed.

According to an App Annie report published Monday, consumers in the U.S. increased the number of games played each month by 13 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the average period in 2019. Game downloads outpaced app downloads — which also experienced a surge in demand — by 35 percent growth in April.

The core gaming market, traditionally associated with PC, Mac and console gaming, has been engulfed by the mobile industry as consumers increasingly turn to handheld devices to play games even when they are stuck at home.

Hyper casual games — which usually offer light gameplay that is easy to pick up and play — are especially on the rise in countries including the U.S., U.K., China and Canada. Among them, the free-to-play Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles and simulator game Woodturning are popular. In Japan, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is the number one downloaded game.

Fortnite, which offers a mobile iteration of the battle royale concept, enabled players to watch Christopher Nolan's Inception and view a Travis Scott concert, expanding the function of what a mobile game can offer. (Earlier this week, the game was removed from the Apple and Google Play app stores amid a dispute over a virtual currency that circumvents the tech giants' payment marketplaces.)

In Germany, Pokemon GO was the number one title by time spent in the second quarter of 2020, despite the fact that it has traditionally been a game played outdoors. Board games that now have a mobile equivalent, such as Scrabble GO, also saw high growth, particularly in France and Canada.

Gaming habits aside, people are also spending more time on mobile phones in general, using them for shopping, business transactions and video conferencing. Worldwide app store consumer spending hit $50 billion in April, with the average user spending 4.3 hours a day on their phone.