As the pandemic rages on, mobile gaming and apps are a kind of salve. So much so, 2020 will be a blockbuster year for mobile games and apps, according to a report by mobile insights firm App Annie and market researcher IDC.
The report repeats a common theme in games: mobile is the primary driver of growth for digital game consumption. And the pandemic is reinforcing mobile’s lead in games.
The forecasters expect record levels of apps downloads and consumer spending across the app stores. During COVID-19, weekly mobile downloads broke records in the first quarter, hitting 1.2 billion downloads at a peak during the quarter in the week ended April 11. Worldwide, users downloaded 35% more mobile games per week in March than in January. Players were downloading 30% more mobile games per week in April than in January.
Mobile gaming first overtook both home game consoles and PC and Mac gaming for consumer spend in 2014, and its lead has widened dramatically since then. In 2020, mobile game spending is set to extend its lead to more than 2.8 times over PC gaming and 3.1 times more than home game consoles.
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But the launch of new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, as well as the growth of gaming in the pandemic, will spur new growth for the console business.
App Annie and IDC said that games were nearly 70% of the worldwide consumer spend for iOS and Google Play in the first quarter of 2020, while they accounted for 40% of downloads. Games were a bigger share of Google Play’s consumer spending than on iOS, but consumers spent nearly 50% more on games on iOS than Google Play in Q1.
North America and the rest of the world gained share in-game spending for iOS and Google Play in Q1, as spending grew in the U.S. and Russia. But spending in the Asia-Pacific region declined in part due to the tighter rules on game approvals in China. Nintendo’s Switch sales were strong and offset decelerating demand for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
App Annie and IDC said that consumers spent most in portable games with real-time multiplayer and co-op game modes. And games with live player-versus-player multiplayer modes outperformed others financially. Such titles include Game for Peace (as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is called in China) to Lineage 2M and Coin Master.
During the quarter, the subgenres that saw the most growth in the peak week in Q1 were simulation, trivia, board games, casual, and adventure games. Action games accounted for the most time spent in Q1.
As for the PC, Steam users rose to 22.5 million average peak daily users in March and April, compared to 16.7 million in September through December. That works out to a 35% increase in daily Steam users and a 41% in the average number of concurrent users, from 5 million to 7 million.
Gaming-related apps like Discord and Twitch are also seeing growth. Discord grew fast in France and Spain, but also had good growth in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Germany. Twitch saw growth, particularly outside gaming, in a variety of regions, including France, Spain, and the U.S. Video ads also saw strong growth, as even hardcore gamers had a positive attitude toward them.