Growing a thriving business and finding success in the ever-growing mobile game market is harder than ever before.
Table of Contents
To help you out, I’ve summarized the most significant mobile gaming trends from the latest Unity report for 2022.
You’ll learn how to:
- Realize your creative vision
- Stand out among thousands of other mobile games
- Provide users with a high-quality game experience
- Target the right group(s) of players
- Choose the right marketing and monetization strategies
- Thrive in the booming mobile game market
Without further ado, here are the mobile gaming trends that are shaping the market.
Mobile Is Gaming’s Fastest Growing Segment
To start off, here are some exciting mobile game statistics that will provide you with insight into the current state of the mobile gaming market.
- According to Statista, 1.8 billion people have downloaded a mobile game for their smartphone. It’s estimated that number will reach 2.2 billion by 2025.
- Newzoo predicted that mobile games would generate more than $85 billion in revenue in 2021 and more than $100 billion in 2023.
- According to Research and Market’s report, by 2023, most of the revenue from gaming will come from mobile.
- According to Newzoo, APAC is currently the largest and fastest-growing regional mobile game market.
Put simply, the mobile gaming market is growing at a fascinating rate, and there are no signs of stopping. However, even though the market is busy, that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out and take your piece of the mobile gaming pie.
There are plenty of opportunities for everyone.
The main takeaway from these statistics is that the most viable strategy for reaching a larger audience is to develop games for all mobile devices.
However, the biggest challenge of cross-platform development is that you need to optimize your game for an increasingly high number of devices.
For example, there are thousands of Android-based devices, all of which have different hardware capabilities. In comparison, there have been less than ten primary iPhone models.
Players Expect PC-Quality Experiences on Mobile
Smartphone hardware capabilities have rapidly increased during the last couple of years.
According to Unity’s report, “Better mobile chipsets provide greater performance with less battery drain, powering higher screen resolutions on display sizes that now average 6 inches.”
Furthermore, according to Ericsson, 5G allowed for incredible speeds (20 x 4G) and low latency (20 ms to 5 ms).
Because of that, we see more and more high-production-value AAA-quality mobile games. And that’s what players have come to expect.
There’s a need for mobile gaming experiences that can match those of PC and consoles. Players want high-quality graphics and complex games with rich worlds on all devices.
However, these expectations put a lot of pressure on developers who have to raise production standards while trying to come up with exciting and unique gameplay experiences.
Unity recommends that developers should be very strategic with the game’s design and art style. Furthermore, they should focus on choosing the right development tools that will help them meet player expectations.
Players Want Social Connections
The social element in gaming became even more important during the pandemic and continues to be something that increases user retention and overall engagement.
That’s what makes it one of the most significant mobile gaming trends.
Games that allow players to play against or with others and communicate while doing so usually have higher stickiness.
According to Unity’s report, “More than half of frequent gamers play online with others an average of seven hours a week, and 55% reported using social gaming to stay connected during the pandemic.”
Let’s remind ourselves of the major success high-production-value multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and Genshin Impact have had.
These are the AAA-quality social experiences players expect on mobile, not just from consoles or PC.
Multiplayer games have become quite advanced and complex on mobile, which is why they attract so many users.
However, creating a high-quality multiplayer game with rich social elements is everything but easy.
The key is to offer a seamless gameplay experience and have good matchmaking. It’s essential to connect players with similar skills and attributes.
Studios Are Utilizing Genre-Specific Monetization Strategies
Did you know that players are playing mobile games longer than ever before? They’re also spending more than ever.
According to Unity’s report, the 75th percentile 30-day user retention improved by 7.1% from 2016 to 2020. Furthermore, conversion rates for in-app purchases grew by 7.7% in the same period. Additionally, mobile game ad revenues have increased by 8% since 2020.
Put simply, players are spending more money, more often.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to earn the big bucks because competition is thick.
The game studios that come out on top in terms of revenue are the ones that take genre-specific trends into consideration and carefully plan their monetization tactics.
The primary monetization methods for most free-to-play games are in-app purchases and rewarded video.
According to Unity’s report, that’s not expected to change anytime soon.
What makes rewarded videos the perfect format for the in-app ads monetization model is the fact that players choose to watch them. Unlike other ad formats, rewarded videos offer players some type of advantage or a prize, which is what makes them so appealing.
It’s no wonder rewarded video ads have the highest eCPM and better CTRs than banner ads.
A hybrid monetization model is also popular with many genres. Put simply, this is an approach that combines in-app purchases, in-app ads, and subscriptions. The main benefit of this model is the ability to monetize different types of users, both non-payers and payers.
Crossplay and Spin-Offs Establish Stronger Brands
Technological advances have made cross-platform gaming easier. Lately, there have been many games that are available on PC, consoles, and mobile.
This type of game is popular because players can choose the device they want to play on, and still be a part of the wider user base.
That’s just one reason why crossplay is among big mobile gaming trends.
For example, Genshin Impact is a game that experienced massive success, in part because players can play the same version of the game on the platform/device of their choice.
However, recreating the same gameplay experience on mobile as it is on PC or console is challenging. For that reason, many developers create spin-offs – variations of their PC or console game that’s optimized for mobile.
Some examples are Pokémon GO, Hitman GO, Monster Park AR, and Crash Bandicoot: On the Run.
Both crossplay and spin-offs help publishers establish a stronger brand presence and reach a wider audience of gamers.
So even though developing for cross-platform gaming is more expensive initially, it opens the opportunity for cross-promotion and expanding the user base.
Another benefit of porting a console or PC game on mobile is that it allows players to switch between different devices. A player might enjoy a particular game on PC while at home but also want to play it on mobile while they’re on the go. That, of course, extends the time they spend playing the game.
IDFA Changes Are Complicating Mobile Game Monetization and UA
We can’t talk about mobile gaming trends without mentioning the effect of the recent IDFA changes and privacy concerns on both mobile game monetization and user acquisition.
Ad tracking has been an essential part of mobile advertising. In the past, Apple enabled it with IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers).
However, Apple made significant IDFA changes on iOS 14. Now, each iOS user needs to opt-in for ad tracking. That has, of course, complicated monetization and user acquisition for mobile games.
While the long-term impact on app revenue and growth is yet to be determined, these changes shook up the mobile gaming ecosystem. Particularly those studios that relied solely on ad performance.
According to Unity’s report, the best advice to game studios and marketers is to be adaptable and ready to tweak their UA and monetization approaches.
Furthermore, studios should closely monitor the performance of their monetization strategies and not rely on just one app store but distribute games through several stores.
Final Thoughts on Mobile Gaming Trends for 2022
Being a part of the mobile gaming industry is more exciting than ever. This booming market offers a lot of opportunities for those who know how to take advantage of them.
Hopefully, these mobile gaming trends from Unity’s report shed light on what you need to focus on in 2022 to accelerate your growth.