2020 mobile gaming trends

2020 mobile gaming industry overview

The 2020 mobile gaming industry - analysis and trends

In 2019, global mobile game revenue grew to $68.5B. Newzoo estimates that by the end of 2020, that number will hit $76.7B - a 12% increase. With a near year right around the corner, here’s our overview and analysis of what you can expect from the mobile game industry in 2020. 

Mobile game industry statistics 
  • According to Sensor Tower, in Q3 2019, out of the 792K publishers on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, 108K of them are game publishers. That’s close to 15% 
  • App Annie predicts that in 2020 consumers will collectively spend 674B hours on mobile devices, up from 558B in 2019
  • Today, mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app
  • By the end of 2019, almost ⅓ of the global population (2.4B) will play mobile games 
  • 50% of mobile app users play games, making this app category as popular as music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, and second only to social media and communications apps in terms of time spent
The mobile gaming market

Usage in mobile game revenue will continue to outpace growth on PC in the coming year, which will ultimately result in a shrinking PC market share dipping below 20% in 2022. 

Mobile will also outpace console’s revenue growth. In 2020, Newzoo predicts that PC gaming will account for 23% of the market revenue, console gaming comes in at 31%, and mobile and tablet are at a combined 46%. By 2022, mobile and tablet gaming will account for close to 50% of the overall gaming market. 

Mobile Gaming Trends


If we look at market share geographically, in 2019, Asia-Pacific accounted for 47% of the market, followed by North America at 26%, Europe, Middle East and Africa at 23%, and finally, Latin America at 4%. In 2019, 48% of all consumer spending came from the US and China. 

mobile game revenue statistics

Trending mobile games in 2020

According to App Annie, here are the top 10 mobile games worldwide from 2019:

  1. Free Fire (Garena)
  2. PUBG Mobile (Tencent)
  3. Subway Surfers (Kiloo)
  4. Color Bump 3D (Good Job Games)
  5. Fun Race 3D (Good Job Games)
  6. Run Race 3D (Good Job Games)
  7. My Talking Tom 2 (Outfit7)
  8. Homescapes (Playrix)
  9. Stack Ball (Azur Interactive Games)
  10. Call of Duty: Mobile (Activision)

Since January, these 10 games have collectively generated over 1.7B downloads. 

Most popular mobile games in China and Japan 

According to App Annie, the most popular mobile games in China are: 

  1. Game for Peace (Tencent)
  2. Killing Virus (Kunpo)
  3. Honor of Kings (Tencent)
  4. Drift Race 3D (Joyfort)
  5. Crowd City (Voodoo)
  6. (SleeeeepFly)
  7. Landlord Poker (Tencent)
  8. Sausage Man (X.D. Network)
  9. CrazyRacing KartRide (Tencent) 
  10. My Home - Design Dreams (Zenjoy)

And the most popular games in Japan are: 

  1. Mario Kart Tour (Nintendo)
  2. Homescapes (Playrix)
  3. Crowd City (Voodoo)
  4. Roller Splat (Voodoo)
  5. Color Bump 3D (Good Job Games)
  6. Call of Duty: Mobile (Activision) 
  7. (Voodoo)
  8. Time of Nazotuki (MASK) 
  9. Toon Blast (Peak Games) 
  10. Mr Bullet (Lion Studios)

Mobile gaming industry trends in 2020 

1. 5G will continue to power advancements in cloud gaming

It would be hyperbolic to call 2019 the year of 5G, but 2019 was the year that marked the beginning of the transition towards global 5G adoption. 2020 may or may not be the year 5G truly becomes mainstream - but one thing’s for sure, 5G will continue to power the latest advancement in the gaming ecosystem: cloud gaming. 

2. Cloud gaming will expand the range of possible gaming experiences

In 2019, Google and Microsoft launched their ambitious cloud gaming solutions. Melissa Zeloof, VP Marketing at ironSource predicts it best:

“While it’s unlikely cloud gaming will replace consoles and PCs or convert a new audience of casual gamers to more traditionally AAA titles, every cloud has a silver lining. Like other new formats and vehicles for enjoying games have done in the past, we can expect cloud gaming to add another stratum to the market. By expanding the range of possible gaming experiences and creating more accessibility to traditional gaming titles, cloud solutions are likely to contribute significantly to the value of this rapidly growing market.”

3. Hardcore gamers will pay a monthly fee for a subscription services, but more casual gamers won’t

In March of 2019, both Apple and Google announced their respective subscription services. While Google’s Stadia also falls under the category of cloud gaming, both Apple and Google are offering game subscription services - rid of in-app purchases and ads - to consumers for a monthly fee. However, 2019 is coming to a close with many unknowns: neither Apple, Google, nor the developers working with either party have explained the business model of the services. 

What we do know is that subscription services are being marketed towards different types of gamers - mid and hardcore gamers, rather than casual and hyper-casual players. While in 2020 it’s likely that more and more hardcore gamers may also begin paying a monthly fee for access to subcriptions, it seems very unlikely that those who engage in gameplay for short bouts of time - either on their commute to work or while waiting for a coffee - will ever consider paying a monthly fee for a subcription. 

4. Hyper-casual will establish itself as its own genre

2019 was a year of explosive growth for hyper-casual games - with IPM growing 70% YoY. However, the hyper-casual genre has just about peaked and in 2020 the genre will surely stabilize as users are no longer as susceptible to the aggressive ad campaigns as they were in the past. But, this doesn’t mean that hyper-casual will die. In fact, we predict that 2020 will be the year that hyper-casual establishes itself as its own genre - and not just a subgenre of casual games. 

5. Studios will see the benefits of aligning their monetization and marketing teams

Advertising is increasingly becoming a significant source of revenue for game developers today. In fact, App Annie predicts that in 2020 ad monetization revenue will finally overtake IAP revenue. 

In 2019, a number of game studios - mostly in the hyper-casual and casual space - began merging their UA and monetization activities into one unified team. The goal of this alignment is to ensure that one person or group of people are working closely together to see the full picture of the game’s growth, leading to a deeper understanding of each individual user: the channel that brought them in and how they engaged with IAPs and ads within the game. With ad revenue about to overtake IAP revenue, we’re predicting that in 2020 studios from an array of genres will see the advantage and ultimately unify the two teams. 

COVID's impact on the mobile gaming market

With COVID, because people are forced to spend more time indoors, they're looking for new ways to pass the time - and they're increasingly turning to games. According to Verizon, gaming saw a 75% week-over-week increase in data usage over its networks this March. Similarly, ironSource’s data showed an increase in DAU across the board - 13% increase in the US, 23% increase in South Korea, 15% increase in Italy, and 60% increase in China.

In addition to playing more games, people are also engaging with more ads thanks to COVID - as noted by the rise in engagement rate. Because people are playing more games in general, they may also more engaged with that game - and so they're engaging with more rewarded video ads. But it's important to note that more people are not engaging with ads, as usage rate has stayed the same. Read more of our conclusions and analysis about COVID's impact on the mobile gaming market here.

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