Gaming, and mobile gaming in particular, is continuing its meteoric rise in the entertainment industry. More people are playing games than ever before as they look for social interactions and fun ways to spend their free time, and COVID-19 is only accelerating this upward trajectory.
In 2020, the global mobile game market expanded substantially due to the impact of COVID-19. Despite geo-political tensions, the growing smartphone penetration and increasing gaming options are also increasing the mobile gaming penetration in many parts of the world. In particular, the number of downloads of hyper-casual games increased from 7.8 billion to 11.8 billion. This massive market is full of both opportunities and competition.
Hypercasual — the eminent king
According to App Annie, in the first half of 2020, hyper-casual games dominated the global mobile market. Hypercasual titles accounted for nearly one-third of downloads in 2020, according to Sensor Tower’s Mobile Game Taxonomy Report 2021. Overall, during 2020, the genre racked up 6.3 billion downloads, giving it 31 per cent of the market share, surpassing Arcade as the №1 category by installs.
Between 2021 and 2026 Asia-Pacific countries are expected to witness the highest growth in mobile gaming. India specifically is one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets globally, with the number of smartphones expected to nearly double by 2022. Much of this active user base comes from rural India, where mobile gaming is still gaining popularity.
According to Google, more than 60% of India’s online gamers are in the 18–24 age group. Young users play online games on their smartphones, leading to a surge in gaming apps downloads. The company also estimates that there will be 310 million online gamers in India by 2021, mainly due to growing ease of access to gaming payment options and the high occurrence of smartphone use — and with a population of over 1.3 billion, the Indian market’s potential is still just barely tapped.
The future for the hyper casual and mobile gaming industry looks all good but developers and publishers will have to face different sets of challenges thrown at them. Companies will need to continuously adapt and innovate in their strategies to handle circumstances such as Apple’s new data policies which affect user acquisition, increasing saturation in the app stores, etc. However, on a brighter, conclusive note — No longer do games have to be the top 10 or 50 in order to to be successful. In 2019, there were 1121 games that generated over $5M in annual consumer spend. Two years before that, just 959 games managed to reach such a revenue level, and the number just continues to grow.