Data.ai (formerly known as App Annie) recently released a new report about the state of mobile in 2022, with a section on gaming showing results for 2022 and its 2023 projections. The new report shows that the mobile audience was spending as much time as ever on their games — but their money? Not so much.
According to the report, mobile game downloads and time spent gaming remain high, but the amount of actual spending has gone down. More specifically, downloads rose to 89 billion, an 8% year-on-year increase. In contrast, spending dropped 5% YoY to $110 billion.
The report, which covers all manner of mobile apps, notes that this change in spending is specific to gaming. Spending in non-gaming app categories, such as dating and entertainment, remained relatively flat, even showing modest gains. Lexi Sydow, data.ai’s head of insights, told GamesBeat in an interview, “We’re not really seeing a slowdown in terms of demand and consumption, but more in the wallet… most of that is happening fore games. They’re taking more of that hit.”
2022 has been largely considered a “corrective” year, after gaming boomed during the pandemic. Sydow also pointed out that, overall, mobile gaming spend and downloads are still higher than they were at the end of 2020. “We’re still ending at a high point, but we softened from our 2021 peaks… In some game genres, we are seeing a decline in overall spend. It could be a bit of that reopening post-Covid that impacted players’ wallets, but individual titles are still performing well.”
As Sydow said, individual titles on data.ai’s report have shown tremendous growth. Several games became breakout mobile hits in 2022. While app spend was down, certain games like Diablo Immortal still ranked high — the game’s microtransactions were criticized by users shortly after it launched, but its placement on data.ai’s charts shows that it was effective in monetizing the game.
The leader in breakout downloads in nearly every market was party game Stumble Guys. The Wordle app was also a popular new hit. Simulation titles (a category which includes Roblox) have grown in time spent, while RPGs such as Pokemon Go and Genshin Impact are leading consumer spend in multiple markets.
It’s also easy to spot the decline of genres as a whole on mobile. For example, while certain heavy hitters like Free Fire remain popular, shooters in general declined in 2022. Puzzle games, on the other hand, got a major boost thanks to Wordle. Meanwhile, action-runner Subway Surfers is still going strong, a fact which Sydow said was a slight surprise, but she attributed its success at least partly to the power of social engagement.