The economic headwinds are changing, and it’s affecting game apps and app economy as a whole. Unfortunately, rising inflation has resulted in revenue declines and growth slowdowns for gaming apps in top markets. But, it’s not all bad news. Emerging markets are seeing accelerated growth and session times are increasing, unlocking new opportunities for mobile game marketers.
Read our deep dive of H1 2022 mobile game app trends below.
US Market Sees Declines in Mobile Gaming
Revenue declines across most mobile game genres
No app category is immune to economic shifts — not even the mobile game market. According to Sensor Tower’s H1 2022 report, most mobile game genres in the United States saw player spending and downloads decline in the first half of the year. Overall, market revenue fell by 9.6% year-over-year to $11.4 billion.
Arcade and Tabletop genres see gains
While most game app genres saw revenue declines, two categories grew in the United States. By revenue, the Arcade genre was the fastest growing game category with player spending up 14.8% year-over-year to reach $176 million.
The second-fastest rising game category by revenue was Tabletop with 0.9% yoy growth for a total revenue of close to $388.8 million.
All other mobile game genres saw a decline in overall player spending during the first half of the year. The Racing genre saw the steepest decline with a 28.8% revenue decrease.
Source: Sensor Tower
By downloads, Action games see gains
The Action genre saw the fastest growth in downloads during the first half of the year compared to 2021. Action games rose 5.4% to 54.7 million overall downloads. The Sports genre was the only other category not to see a decline in downloads. However, the category did not grow, remaining flat at approximately 66 million installs. Overall, the US games market declined by 2.5% to 2.4 billion.
Source: Sensor Tower
Emerging Markets See Mobile Gaming Growth
While historical top game app markets have started flatlining in growth, emerging markets are seeing gains. According to Sensor Tower, Vietnam is leading in gaming growth as of the first quarter of 2022. The country drove 470 million mobile game downloads, a 21% increase year-over-year. While Thailand drove more overall downloads in Q1 2022, it did not see as high of an increase in growth compared to Vietnam. In the first quarter of the year, Thailand drove 830 million mobile game downloads, a 5% increase from last year.
Source: Sensor Tower
Outside of APAC, other emerging markets are also seeing notable growth. This includes Argentina — which saw the highest growth in mobile game downloads in Q1 2022 outside of Southeast Asia — as well as Turkey, which is the fastest growing mobile game market in Europe by downloads as well as revenue.
In Q1 2022, Turkey’s mobile game downloads grew by 6% year-over-year and its revenue increased by 37% to a total of $40 million. Turkey’s accelerated growth has won it the nickname, the “Silicon Valley of Europe”. Notably, in 2020, Peak Games, a Turkish gaming company based in Istanbul was acquired by Zynga to the tune of $1.8 billion.
Source: Sensor Tower
Mobile Hits its Stride in Gaming
According to research by Data.ai, as of this year, mobile has become the leading force in gaming. In 2022, mobile games will generate 60% of global gaming spend. This represents 3.2x more revenue than the long-running driver of most gaming revenue: home consoles.
This means that while economic headwinds might be affecting mobile game performance in the short term, in the long term — investing in mobile games is still a smart play.
Because since its inception in the 1950s, the gaming industry has maintained its position as one of the steadiest and most profitable industries in the world. In fact, in 2022, it’s projected that overall gaming industry revenue will reach $203.1 billion, a 5.4% increase year-over-year.
Mobile Game App Opportunities in H2 2022
As advertising budgets tighten, there are many opportunities for gaming apps to more efficiently and strategically acquire and retain players.
According to Adjust, total time spent in game apps per player over a 24 hour period grew in 2021. Total time spent in mobile game apps also increased across from Day 1 to Day 30 after download.
- Day 1: 50.3 to 53.3 minutes (+3)
- Day 3: 44.9 to 47.2 minutes (+2.3)
- Day 7: 43.3 to 45.5 minutes (+2.2)
- Day 14: 41.7 to 44.2 minutes (+2.5)
- Day 30: 41.4 to 43 minutes (+1.9)
Adjust’s Mobile App Trends 2022 Report also noted the overall rise in cost per install (CPI) last year. In 2020, the average median CPI was $1.74. By the close of 2021, that average had increased to $2.18.
***It should be noted that within specific game categories, CPI averages decreased — for example, the average cost to acquire a player for hyper casual games decreased from $0.35 to $0.28.
So, while players might be getting more expensive to acquire, session lengths are increasing. This means identifying high-quality, paying players and retargeting them from Day 1 of install, is a key strategy for game apps in H2 2022 and beyond.
The economic headwinds are changing, and it’s affecting the mobile gaming industry and app economy as a whole.
- Most mobile game genres in the United States saw player spending and downloads decline in H1 2022. Overall, market revenue fell by 9.6% year-over-year to $11.4 billion.
- The 2 categories that grew in the US by revenue were Arcade and Tabletop. The Action category saw gains in downloads.
- Top-growing markets in Q1 2022 were Vietnam, Thailand and Argentina. Turkey has also seen notable gaming growth. Mobile game revenue increased by 37% to a total of $40 million in Q1 2022.
- As of this year, mobile has become the leading force in gaming, generating 60% of global gaming spend and outpacing home consoles a top driver of gaming revenue.
- Total time spent in game apps per player over a 24 hour period grew in 2021, as did average CPIs. So, while players might be getting more expensive to acquire, session lengths are increasing. This means identifying high-quality, paying players and retargeting them from Day 1 of install, is a key strategy for game apps in H2 2022 and beyond.
Grow your game app and retain your best players
The best way to confront the shifting economy? Proactively retarget your top players from their first day of install. Contact our team to get started.