Why mobile gaming is the future of leisure time

And what marketers can learn from new research about the motivators of play

A recent history of gaming

According to Newzoo, the mobile gaming industry is expected to top $100 billion by 2021, achieving a decade of double-digit growth. And it generated more than 50% of the global games market last year.1 How did such a young industry grow so fast? One way was by offering more payment options, some of which don’t even require a purchase.

Icon of an eye
Attention

Players get benefits like points and extra lives for watching a video ad, keeping them in the game.

Icon of a key
Access

Subscriptions are a big trend, with more than 70% year-over-year growth in games subscribers on Google Play.

Icon of sunglasses
In-app purchase

From coins to catapults, in-app purchases (IAP) of virtual goods are made electronically.

Icon of a mobile phone
Social trade

Players can barter, share, or compete to win each other’s virtual goods in social games.

How mobile won our free time

According to eMarketer, mobile is expected to top TV in terms of daily screen time this year.2 Many of us will spend that time gaming. Those of us who use gaming apps spend an average of 6.5 hours a week on them, and 78% use them daily.3 Most say they play to “pass the time.”4 That’s where mobile has a clear advantage: Unlike TV, we can take our phones anywhere.

Tv with no one watching it, looking sad
Average minutes spent per day with TV and Mobile
Source: “Mobile Soon to Pass TV in Time Spent.” eMarketer, April 2018.

Meet the Genre Gamers

To understand what motivates mobile gamers, Google and Kantar TNS surveyed more than 3,500 of them across six countries. Three mindsets emerged, each tied to a different game genre.

Casual Gamer

Three casual gamers on phones
Examples
  • Candy Crush Logo Candy Crush
  • Gardenscapes Logo Gardenscapes
  • Subway Surfers Logo Subway Surfers

Strategy Gamer

Three strategy gamers on phones
Examples
  • PUBG Mobile Logo PUBG Mobile
  • Arena of Valor Logo Arena of Valor
  • Clash Royale Logo Clash Royale

Fantasy Gamer

Three fantasy gamers on phones
Examples
  • Fate / Grand Order Logo Fate/Grand Order
  • Dragon Ball Z Logo Dragon Ball Z
  • Ragnarok M Logo Ragnarok M
Genre-quest, in the style of a video game title

Genre Gamers play for different reasons. Your quest? Find out how they play and why.

cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud
The main casual gamer, turned into a robot holding a mobile phone The main casual gamer, turned into a robot holding a mobile phone The Dabbler
cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud
The main strategy gamer, turned into a knight holding a mobile phone The main strategy gamer, turned into a knight holding a mobile phone Galahad
cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud
Houdini Houdini Houdini
An icon of a castle

Level one complete

You’re ready for your next adventure. But first, take a closer look at the top two motivators of play for each type of gamer. Beyond just passing the time, their answers provide insight into the needs they look to fulfill when they select a game. Get familiar with those needs so you can easily spot them — and meet them.

Casual Gamers

The robot, holding a mobile phone

Play games:

63%

To pass the time

33%

Because they’re easy to understand

Strategy Gamers

The knight, holding a mobile phone

Play games:

48%

To pass the time

27%

To challenge themselves

Fantasy Gamers

The wolf, with a mobile phone in a pouch

Play games:

49%

To pass the time

30%

To escape their world

An easter egg

Find the dragon egg to unlock the bonus. Bonus: 59% of mobile gamers download a game within a day of discovering it.5

An icon of a dragon

Level two complete

You’re on a roll. But before you head to the castle, make sure you understand the top three motivators that keep mobile gamers engaged. (Tip: Nobody likes a game that crashes.)

Casual Gamers

The robot, holding a mobile phone

Keep playing games that:

58%

Run smoothly

56%

Are easy to use

43%

Take up little space

Strategy Gamers

The knight, holding a mobile phone

Keep playing games that:

58%

Run smoothly

49%

Include trophies and badges

49%

Have a large player base

Fantasy Gamers

The wolf, with a mobile phone in a pouch

Keep playing games that:

62%

Run smoothly

53%

Include trophies and badges

51%

Let them look different

A red gem

Find the gem to unlock the bonus. Bonus: The #1 reason players say they came back to a game: new features like additional levels.6

An icon of a dragon on a shield

Level three complete

You’re almost there! Before you collect your prize, make sure you know the top reasons players pay — and what they pay for — in each genre.

Casual Gamers

The robot, holding a mobile phone

58%

Of those who don’t pay will watch a video ad in return for in-game benefits

Strategy Gamers

The knight, holding a mobile phone

46%

Have paid for enhanced weapons and skills

Fantasy Gamers

The wolf, with a mobile phone in a pouch

53%

Have paid for rare or exclusive characters or accessories

A sack of coins

Find the bag of gold to unlock the bonus. Bonus: 64% of players who don't pay for games said that they would be willing to watch a video in return for benefits such as points, new levels, extra lives and skills.7

A key surrounded by sparkling stars

You’ve unlocked the secrets of play and pay

Use them wisely by applying these tips to your mobile strategy.

The robot, holding a mobile phone The knight, holding a mobile phone The wolf, with a mobile phone in a pouch
A treasure chest overflowing with coins and gems

Sources (15)