Consumers Spend More than 1 Billion Hours a Month Playing Mobile Games

 

Ever wonder how much and where mobile games fit into the day in the life of the average consumer? According to the Verto App Report (published February 2016), social media activity touches nearly all mobile app users (99%), while mobile games reach 57% of mobile app users.

But when you look at time users spend on games, the data looks quite different.

Games rank second behind social media activity in terms of time spent on devices. That equates to a whopping 1.15 billion hours that consumers spend each month playing games. And that explains some of the business dynamics that we’re seeing among game publishers today, including the trend of console game developers moving into mobile games. There’s a huge opportunity to extend existing franchises into new devices as well as create new experiences through VR headsets and other emerging peripherals.

How Mobile Games Stack Up

EA, Zynga and King (acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion in February) each announced earnings this month, and Wall Street applauded with soaring stocks for each one.

From a business perspective, what’s unusual about the mobile games industry sector is that it is a very fragmented space; there are a just a handful of game publishers that have more than five million monthly unique players.

Zynga has been ranked number two behind King, and has a similar reach to EA. Compared to EA, however, Zynga has pushed heavily into mobile – most of their monthly 25.1 million audience (85%) is using Zynga games on mobile. The risk for Zynga, however, is that their popularity is based on just one title – more than 60% of their audience are only playing Words with Friends. What remains to be seen is whether they can continue their mobile-centric strategy while retaining the loyalty of the casual games crowd and building other successful brands to drive use growth.

We can see from EA’s time spent per month and average session duration that while players spend more time in the game, they return less frequently, as shown by EA’s the lower rank in stickiness.

Electronic Arts is one of the incumbent gaming giants, which is reflected in its key properties in the U.S. Many EA desktop games are still high up in the rankings, and in fact EA has more PC users for its games in the U.S. (17.5 million adults per month), than those using smartphones and tablets (10.2 million and 5.9 million, respectively). Out of the total EA monthly audience, 61% play EA games on PCs, whereas only 35% play on smartphones and 20% on tablets. While EA boasts multiple popular titles backed by strong marketing campaigns, the DNA of the company is less mobile-centric than many of the most successful gaming companies that have emerged over the past years, including Machine Zone, Supercell, King and Rovio.

Who Is the Mobile Gamer? Hint: She’s Crushing it.

When it comes to driving downloads and building an engaged player base, mobile game publishers that are entirely focused on the mobile audience are really good at driving retention, stickiness and monetization with in-game purchases for mobile-only game titles. Who is buying, and who is playing? The data might surprise you.

The most surprising discovery among these three companies is who the gamers are. In every case, the majority of players are women. In fact, King’s largest cohort is Gen X females playing Candy Crush or Candy Crush Soda on tablets. Zynga’s largest audience may also surprise you: Baby Boomers.

Zynga’s top property is Words With Friends, which had 15.4 million monthly users in March.

  • On average 4.7 hours spent per user per month on Words With Friends
  • Average of 94 sessions per user per month
  • Average session duration of three minutes

EA also has an older female user base accessing its top games via PC. EA’s top game, The Sims, has 2.7 million monthly users spending about one hour per user per month, 14 times per month.

To learn more about the mobile game landscape, sign up for our webinar: The Mobile Game Playbook on May 25 at 10am PT/1pm ET here.