mobile gaming business

Mobile Gaming Business : What’s New in the Market?

Gaming, and mobile gaming business in particular, continued to rule the entertainment industry in 2022. Newzoo reports the global gaming market generated $184.4B in revenue, half ($92.2B) coming from mobile gaming alone in 2022. To put that into perspective, it’s more than triple the combined annual revenue of the global box office and all music subscription streaming services, which generated $26bn and an expected $27.24bn in 2022 respectively. 

Mobile game industry statistics 

  • reports consumers spent an average of 5 hours per day on their mobile devices – one-third of all waking hours and a YoY increase of 3%
  • reports consumers spent $110B on mobile games
  • reports mobile app downloads reached nearly 255B, with 90B being mobile game downloads
  • Statista reports that in Q3 2022 Android users had 3.55 million apps to choose from in the Google Play Store and iOS users had access to 1.6 million apps in the App Store
  • Statista predicts that by the year 2025 ad spend in the mobile game market will reach $130.8B

The mobile game market shows that hyper-casual continues to be the number one downloaded game genre worldwide with 17.5B downloads in 2022 – despite its end being predicted for as long as the genre has existed. The simulation and puzzle genres took the second and third top slots respectively, with simulation breaking the 10B downloads mark. 

China continues to be the world’s largest market for games. According to Adjust, APAC experienced the largest growth globally in consumer spending between Q1 2021 to Q2 2022 – but it was developers headquartered in China that were able to enjoy it most, driving 33% of total consumer game spend for the region. However, with almost no new game licenses issued until the end of 2022, only domestic developers were able to take advantage of China’s appetite. The embargo on foreign games was finally lifted in December 2022, ending the effective 18-month-long ban on new imported titles and now giving developers based outside of China a chance to enter the market.

Trending mobile games in 2022

According to, these were the top mobile games in the US by downloads in 2022:

  1. ROBLOX (Roblox Corporation)
  2. Subway Surfers (Kiloo, Sybo) 
  3. Stumble Guys (Kitka Games)
  4. Wordle by Goldfinch (Goldfinch Studios)
  5. Count Masters (Free Play LLC)
  6. Among Us! (InnerSloth LLC, PlayEveryWare)
  7. Parking Jam 3D (Popcore Games)
  8. Fishdom: Deep Dive (Playrix)
  9. (HABBY PTE. LTD.)
  10. Call of Duty: Mobile (Activision, TiMi Studio Group, Tencent Games)

Mobile gaming industry analysis and trends in 2023 

All indications point to 2023 being another eventful and demanding year for mobile gaming businesses. Opportunities are there for savvy app marketers who can take advantage of the trends in the new year – short-form video continues to be a way for marketers to reach massive audiences, AI is making game design faster and more polished, and player ownership offers developers more ways to monetize their games. Let’s dive deeper into the trends that should be a part of your strategy in 2023.

1. Short-form video is here to stay

There’s no doubt that 2022 was the year of short-form video. Behind this trend were social media platforms, namely TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, focusing firmly on making media shorter, snappier, and increasingly snackable. 

This trend had a major influence on the ad creative space, with ads being pushed to condense their messaging into even smaller and tighter windows. 2023 will likely see this trend continue to dominate how users consume both content and creatives. 

For game marketers, this means it’ll be more important than ever to grab the attention of users as quickly as possible. So far, we’ve seen creative teams use humor, gross-out, sound, and real actors to get even a few seconds of user attention. In 2023 we’ll only see attention spans shrink further and with them, the chance creative teams have to convert. The best teams will find ways to use these constraints to their advantage, leveraging even more innovative means to get and keep users’ attention. 

2. AI is coming, but not for your job

AI has been on the brink of mainstream adoption for a while now, and with the launch of ChatGPT, we may have finally reached the tipping point.

Up until now in the mobile gaming industry, the effects of AI have been mostly felt in creatives, where the use of AI image generators like Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion have become more common. That being said, there’s still a long way to go before AI can replace the creative team, or even get close.

Where AI is making its biggest splash is in the ideation and design of mobile games. It’s early days yet, but the potential is undeniable as developers now have an endless spring of new ideas only a prompt away

For 2023, this means even more polished titles – with less time needed for ideation and design, more time can be spent on prototyping. Small studios will be able to stay lean, even as they scale, and larger studios can make themselves even more efficient as resources that would be spent on dialogue, decision trees, interfaces, and calculating physics can be outsourced to AI. But, this doesn’t mean the end of the human team, only that their time will be more impactful as their workload is reduced.  

3. The latest evolution of F2P: Play & Own

Free-to-Play has gone through many evolutions since the early days of Flappy Bird, with the latest being the rise of Play & Own (P&O) on the horizon for 2023. P&O allows players to not only play the games they want for free but also own the assets that they purchase or are awarded within the game. 

All this is made possible through player ownership – an innovation that enables players to manage, sell, rent, and trade their game assets on secondary markets. For developers and users alike this represents a significant boost in value: users will be able to use their assets across titles and trade them to other users once they’re done, transforming their IAPs from expenses to assets. Developers will get new ways to monetize their games through royalties, stronger communities, longer playing users, and more room to scale. 

What this translates to in 2023 is an exciting new way to play, make, and monetize games.

4. More IAP-first games will leverage ad monetization from the start

With players’ budgets getting tighter, 2023 will be harder for developers to monetize through in-app purchases. For many developers, this requires a shift from relying on IAPs as the primary method for monetization. 

This means seeking out new ways to monetize, like player ownership and in-app advertising. Looking back at 2022, ad engagement rose according to ironSource data – especially in games that typically used IAP as their primary monetization method. In 2023, there will very likely be a sharp uptick in the use of ads. 

The most popular method will likely be a mixed monetization model, where developers can leverage rewarded video together with offerwalls. This allows them to reward users with in-game benefits in return for completing tasks – both are essentially transactional, but instead of users paying with money they may not have, they can pay with their time. For users, this means a chance to get premium content even when there’s little to spare in their budgets. For developers, it means being able to monetize and grow despite tough economic conditions. 

 5. IPs will be a bigger part of developers’ UA strategy  

Developers will increasingly depend on IPs for their marketing and UA in 2023. The ultra-competitive and mature market will mean studios and the games they create have to set themselves apart to survive. With established fanbases and widespread name recognition, IPs are one of the most effective ways for developers to differentiate their games – drawing interest and helping to acquire the users developers want using franchise power. 

On top of that, the effects of ATT and IDFA have meant reaching target audiences is harder than ever before, but, by leveraging the fandoms of well-known and liked IPs, developers can still reach the audiences their games were made for. Those doing it best will match their genre to appropriate IPs and through association bring in the audiences they want.

6. The year of ad refinement 

If 2022 was the year of experimentation for creatives, 2023 is the year of refinement. As user acquisition teams pushed the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable in the last year, users became increasingly sensitive to creatives that were in bad taste.

Fun is not the only priority for users, many want to ensure that the games they play and the ads they consume meet their ethical standards. Regardless of how effective a creative may be if it uses harmful messaging, it’ll turn users away. 

In 2023, developers need to be even more careful that the creatives they use and the ads they show aren’t offensive or deceptive. While experimentation and boundary-pushing are good for finding what works, refinement and ad quality will be increasingly necessary for the success of your title, whether you’re on the developer or advertiser side. 

Maximize growth

How to Maximise Performance of Your Game?

Growing a mobile game is a complex process with many steps. As a game design consultant, it’s my job to analyze each game’s revenue, so I focus on two key steps: finding out which pieces of a monetization strategy might be missing, and which can be moved around. This includes implementing and optimizing ad placement strategies, finding industry benchmarks, and more. 

In this article, I’ll share what game developers can and should be doing to maximize their performance, and as a result their revenue – all broken down into three clear steps. Let’s dive in. 

Tip #1: Analyze your app’s performance 

To successfully boost your revenue, it’s critical to first understand what success looks like – that’s where benchmarks come in. Industry monetization benchmarks are available from a variety of different sources, like, Sensor Tower, and other industry reports, like the Unity Gaming Report. Unity LevelPlay developers, for example, can reach out to their account managers to access monetization benchmarks – like engagement rate, ARPDAU, and eCPM – all broken down by genre and geo.

To get an even clearer understanding of your performance, you should see how your performance compares to your competitors’. For example, a game design consultant can give you anonymized competitor monetization data. This can help you understand which monetization challenges the games in your genre need to address, and how they compare to yours. 

As you analyze your data, you should be able to translate it into clear, actionable words

– Anna Popereko, Senior Game Designer at Unity

Once you have your app’s monetization benchmarks, you can compare them to your own data and user behavior. Make sure to focus on these KPIs at both the app level and placement level:

  • Engagement rate (impressions/daily active users): how many players actually saw your ads. 
  • Usage rate (impressions/daily engaged users): how many ads an engaged player sees per day

As you analyze your data, you should be able to translate it into clear, actionable words. For example, if you notice that your engagement rate is relatively low, but your usage rate is high, it means many users aren’t finding your placement – but the ones who found it are very engaged. This might be because your placement is not visible to the user. In this case, make sure to update your placement so that it is accessible and easy for the user to reach. Try A/B testing more noticeable locations and button designs. 

To get a clear picture of your performance at the placement level, make sure to focus on your main geo (e.g. the US), and collect data over a large enough period to show statistically significant data. Unity LevelPlay developers can access this information on the user activity page. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for irregularities, like spikes, drops, or uneven behavior. For example, you’d naturally expect a spike on a weekend (when user activity is high), but a spike on a Monday might raise some eyebrows. 


Tip #2: Be a conscious player

To fully optimize your game experience, you need to understand it – so it’s critical to put yourself in your players’ shoes, play your game, and ask yourself:

  • What is the player’s motivation to continue playing? There are many different types of user motivations (example below). If you have a player vs. player game, for example, players are most likely motivated by action. Analyzing motivations, you can be better prepared to give players exactly what they want and need to continue enjoying your game, like upgrades, weapons, or powerful characters. 
  • What keeps players from moving forward in your game? Pay attention to the hurdles keeping your players from moving forward in the game. For example, if players don’t have enough currency to start the next level, you can add a rewarded video placement at the end of each level where they can double their currency. 
  • How do ad placements contribute to the users’ experience? Ad experience is a critical part of the user experience, so make sure to look critically at exactly where and when interstitials and rewarded videos pop up. If players are getting what they need to advance in the game and your user ad experience is overall positive, is that reflected in the numbers (e.g. user engagement rate, impressions/DEU)?

Next, play your competitor’s games, and ask yourself the same questions about your competitors’ ad experience:

  • How does your competitors’ ad experience compare to yours? Think: placement quality, timing, type, location, and frequency (capping and pacing)
  • If their placements are different, why do you think they chose this strategy? How do their placements make you feel as a player? 

Tip #3: Get inspired 

The more games you explore in your genre, the bigger your library of inspiration. Ask yourself: 

  • What are other games doing that I can be doing? Let’s say you have a task-oriented game, and your players’ main motivation is achievement (they want to collect as many items as possible). In this case, you should check out what other soft currency/items your competitors are using – you might be inspired to expand your options. You can even explore beyond your own genre and see how other games are rewarding their users’ specific motivations. 
  • How do other games motivate their players? Check out how your competitor incentivizes their players to move forward in the game – for example, do they also put their items and upgrades in rewarded videos? 

“Whether it be from your game or your competitors’ games, good ideas can come from anywhere – and the more you look at, and deeper you analyze, the easier it is to get inspired.”

– Anna Popereko, Senior Game Designer at Unity

If you’re inspired by one of your competitor’s ad placements, you can try A/B testing it in your game. Here’s an example: one of our partners, a major mobile shooter game, was looking to increase engagement for their ad placements, especially their gacha (chest) ad placement in the store. When we observed games from other genres, we noticed how one racing game strategically increased traffic to their store by refreshing their store items.

While the two games aren’t from the same genre, players from both the RPG and racing game are motivated by achievement. Both games contain hundreds of items (e.g. upgrades, collectables) that players don’t necessarily need to be able to play, yet they’re still motivated to collect as many as possible. And since their player motivations are similar, strategies from one game can be applied to the other.

When we presented this idea to our RPG partner, they were inspired to start changing their collectables on a monthly basis. We found that every time we changed the collectables in the store, interest in the store increased – as a result, the placement’s engagement rate would spike. Best of all, since we rotated and recycled the same assets monthly, we boosted the placement’s engagement without requiring any extra resources. 

When it comes to optimizing your game, there’s always room for improvement. Whether it be from your game or your competitors’ games, good ideas can come from anywhere – and the more you look at, and deeper you analyze, the easier it is to get inspired. 

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mobile promotion

Supercharge Your App With Creative Trend : How’s ?

User acquisition is at the core of app growth, and creatives are one of the best tools UA managers have to reach and engage new users. Knowing how to leverage them in your campaigns can play a big role in tipping the scales in favor of your app’s success. 

But creatives can also be a resource sink – necessitating time to experiment and the budgets to do so. By analyzing trends in creatives – from ideation to execution – you can hopefully skip the sink and get the most out of your creatives. 

Here are some of the top creative trends in games to help you drive engagement for your app: 

Classic game mechanics

Mobile game developers make their creatives instantly recognizable and familiar to users by employing mechanics from classic games. Examples include games like pipe (connecting pipe pieces to get a flow of liquid from the entry to the exit), snake (a snake-like character is guided to eat pickups, growing as it does), and aim-and-shoot (hitting a target, while avoiding obstacles that move). While the mechanic in the creative might not be relevant to core gameplay, its familiarity can work to help boost conversions. 

You too can use classic game mechanics, think Cheetos’ ‘Cheetapult’ or ‘App of Massive Distraction.’ Familiar game mechanics are a great way to get users on your app, and they can also improve user engagement – playables ads have better CTR when compared to video ads. 

Before and after transformations

Everyone loves a good rags to riches story. Many games use before and after transformations to engage users, highlighting the progress a user’s character makes in their games. For example, they start by showing a low-level character struggling to defeat a mid-level enemy, then show that character leveling up to where they can dominate that same enemy. Visual clues like new, shiny armor and weapons also help show the character’s journey. 

This can also be accomplished by transforming an object or person by direct action (for example, a person or object being washed, going from dirty to clean). This technique taps into the satisfaction of completing a journey or difficult task. Other examples include the compelling genre of DIY and ASMR videos, where you can’t help but watch a carpet being cleaned to completion. 

You can use these in your creatives to tap into user motivations. For example, use an image of someone hungrily waiting for their meal and then show them becoming full after eating using your QSR app (add in a meter filling for extra effect). Or, you could have a literal rags to riches story featured in a creative for a spend tracking app, showing a transformation from raggedy to well-dressed thanks to the ability to save money through your app.  

Laughter is the best medicine

Another great way to entice users is through humor. If a creative for a game makes a user laugh, then that user is already emotionally engaged. By entertaining users before they even download an app, publishers show them that their enjoyment has been put front and center. 

One way games do this is by using gameplay with a funny caption or an ironic twist. Another (and currently popular) technique is using real actors in short live-action skits centered around a game. 

For your app, the same principles apply. Use comedic skits featuring your app to give users a laugh and make your brand more personable and approachable. It’s a trick advertising agencies have been using for decades, whether for Volkswagen or Nintendo, and one that should be part of your marketing strategy. 

Follow the TikTok trends

Short-form video is at the top of the food chain when it comes to share of attention, and TikTok is a goldmine for content that’s proven to get and keep users’ attention. Use the same trends that are dominating TikTok as a way to get noticed by users. Just remember, when it comes to TikTok, relevance is everything – make sure you hop on a trend while it’s still timely or you could miss your window (and feel dated rather than relevant). 

Some of the ways TikTok trends can be leveraged include: using the app’s AI voiceover, adapting your game to fit a popular meme, or featuring your app in the corner of a trending video. 

Borrow some influence

Another highly effective way to create convincing creatives is through influencer and user collaborations. Partner with users and popular influencers who fit your app’s target audience to get your creatives in front of the users you actually want. 

Influencer collaboration comes in various forms but the three most common tiers are micro-influencers (independent niche creators with a smaller following), content creators (social media entertainers or educators with a medium to large following), and celebrities (well known artists/public figures with huge followings). Examples include Calm and Bumble’s partnership with huge stars like Lebron James and Tiffany Haddish for mass appeal, while apps like Whatnot (a collectibles and trading platform) have partnered with smaller Youtubers and streamers for penetration into niche markets. 

Another option, if your budget is tight, is user generated content – one of the best ways to speak directly to your target demographic without breaking the bank. Offer select users a sample of your product or service with the condition that they post a testimonial on social media. Although you may lose reach by partnering with users with smaller followings, you gain cost-effectiveness and can still spread awareness. 

All of the reaping, none of the sowing

Mobile games have often been at the forefront of innovations in the mobile app industry. But sometimes there’s merit to being second. You get the opportunity to see what’s worked, and what hasn’t. Creatives are a perfect example of this. For every trend that’s proved successful, there are thousands of failed attempts (and misspent dollars and hours). Leverage the learnings from these creative trends and reap the UA rewards.