Data-driven Insights Into Gaming Growth In 2021

Adjust’s report reveals that gaming apps reached new heights in 2020

Data-driven Insights Into Gaming Growth In 2021
Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

The world changed a lot in 2020, and in the mobile app industry, the shifts in consumer behaviors and accelerated transformations of entire industries were all reflected in the data. People relied on their mobile devices to do just about everything, from connecting with families and friends to seeking entertainment and making online purchases. According to reports, consumers spent a total of $112 billion on apps in 2020.

With the shift in consumer behavior, there was no bigger winner than mobile games. Adjust’s most recent mobile app trends report reveals that gaming apps reached new heights in 2020, particularly in hyper-casual, with installs up 43% — and is trending up again in 2021. And Adjust’s Mobile App Growth Report 2021 confirms that games are the world's fastest-growing vertical. In Southeast Asia, the number of mobile online gamers is expected to reach 250 million by the end of 2021. Reports also identified Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines as the region's strongest markets for mobile gaming.

As an up-and-coming mobile games market, the region is also beginning to attract investors. In 2017, Tencent invested in Sea Limited, Singapore's largest game publisher and Garena's parent company. Garena is the creator of the Arena of Valor International Championship, which is one of the important e-sport tournaments in Youtube Gaming. 

Clearly, gaming developers of all sizes are hot commodities, but figures show that the global mobile industry is still a long way from the top of the market, and there is still a lot of room to grow. As mobile gaming booms, it is more important than ever for developers to take a look at the actual data and understand what is driving success — or not. In this article, we will dispel a couple of myths and dig into the most critical data points guiding gaming growth in 2021.

Bigger is not always better

Having a broad portfolio of apps has long been believed to be a key factor for growth. For mobile app developers, promoting titles across their app portfolio is a popular and effective way to help spread the word about their other apps. However, for mobile app developers trying to decide between growing their portfolios or focusing their efforts on a smaller number of apps, data suggests that the number of apps does not correlate with high growth scores.

While there is no direct relationship between having more apps and driving more growth, having an extensive lineup of apps certainly does not hurt gaming companies. Driving gamers from one app they love to the next can go on indefinitely. For entertainment applications, however, there is a point of diminishing returns. While players may always be on the lookout for a new, fun game, users of entertainment apps tend to stick to only a few streaming applications.

Regardless of the portfolio size, publishers can leverage cross-promotion to keep growth scores constant. In fact, Adjust's data shows that gaming companies that own over 100 properties saw the highest growth score. Although the difference is small, it does show the benefits of including cross-promotion with app marketing strategies. For gaming apps, at least, having an extensive portfolio helps.

App updates by the numbers

Additional data worth looking at are the typical lifetime of an app and how long developers usually support their apps. With apps released in 2018, the samples from Adjust's report show gaming apps to have the shortest lifetime — with the fewest number of apps still active 24 months after launch.

In addition, only 43 percent of games were still active after two years, which corresponds to the disposable nature of hyper-casual games. Unsurprisingly, fintech and e-commerce have the highest number of apps still supported after two years. They require frequent updates to keep meeting user expectations.

A common theme among apps of all types, however, is the app update frequency. Upon launch, developers will frequently update the apps, but the instances of updates dwindle per month as time goes on. Ultimately, on average, an active app is updated three times per month, so developers need to be prepared to regularly update their apps to keep up with evolving user expectations.

Mobile gaming can — and most likely will — continue to dominate in 2021 and beyond. Considering the relatively short lifespan of games, it makes sense that game publishers continue to build their portfolios, cross-promote their content and ensure that they offer a fresh and exciting game experience to their users.