Mobile Game Spending Expected to Hit $100B in 2020

Courtesy Activision
'Call of Duty: Mobile'

Mobile data and analytics provider App Annie predicts the market will continue to expand in its annual State of Mobile report.

The mobile gaming industry is expected to continue its growth into 2020, data and analytics provider App Annie predicts in its annual State of Mobile report, published Wednesday.

The research, which includes gaming among a wide spectrum of macro mobile trends, examines the type of games that drive deep engagement with mobile users — such as core strategy games — as well as the games that emerged most popular with consumers in different countries and the expectations of the industry for the year and decade going forward.

Looking at global consumer spending in 2019, mobile gaming emerged as the most popular form of gaming with 25 percent more spending than in all other gaming avenues, such as home console and handheld devices. Two games, both of which existed, in some iteration, on console platforms before migrating to mobile, contributed to that: Mario Kart Tour — which scored Nintendo's biggest first-month mobile launch with 129 million downloads — and Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty Mobile, which passed 100 million installs in the first week. 

Among the casual gaming genres, arcade and puzzle games came out as the most downloaded games globally in 2019, contributing to 47 percent and 21 percent of downloads, respectively. The match-3 puzzle game Anipop represented 10 percent of all time spent in the top 100 games.

Core games, which include action, shooter, RPG and simulation titles and are typically more strategy based, customizable and competitive (such as the battle royale title Free Fire) represented one-fifth of global downloads. While those games represented only 18 percent of downloads, they accounted for 55 percent of time spent in Top Games. Diving in closer, core action games such as multiplayer battle arena Honour of Kings represented the biggest portion of time spent. 

In Asia-Pacific markets such as China, Japan and South Korea, core RPG, strategy and action games made up 76 percent of consumer spending. The free-to-play role-playing title Fate/Grand Order was the No. 1 core game title by consumer spending. 

Popular games like Color Bump 3DPUBG Mobile and Brawl Stars appeared on the breakout list alongside household titles Call of Duty: Mobile and Mario Kart Tour, which looked at the top games in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.K. — in addition to the U.S. —according to downloads and consumer spending. 

By the measure of consumer spending, mobile gaming is the leading gaming platform worldwide, with numerous titles surpassing annual consumer spending benchmarks of 5 million — 100 million. Among those on the highest end, a 59 percent growth rate was seen in 2019 as compared with the two years prior.

With the continuation of subscription gaming services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass, as well as widespread use of 5G technology, app users and gamers are expected to spend over $100 billion in 2020 across iOs and Android systems. 

And as the new decade begins, analysts at App Annie predict that smartphones will not only function as the base for which all other technological devices are connected, but they will serve as the primary interface through which users interact with the world. 

Jan. 15, 7:17 a.m.: Updated to reflect latest figures in the report.