In 2016, the lead of consumer spending on mobile gaming over other platforms widened and was 25% higher than PC and Mac gaming revenue, according to a report by analyst firms App Annie and IDC. This growth was mostly driven by key markets like China and Japan. Over 60% of the gaming revenue last year came from Asia.
“2016 was the best year yet for mobile games, with consumers spending nearly 25% more than the year prior,” said Danielle Levitas, SVP of Research at App Annie. “The breakout success of Pokémon GO propelled mobile games further ahead of consoles, PC/Mac, and handheld consoles. As augmented and virtual reality technologies continue to emerge, we expect mobile will remain the largest revenue-generating platform for games.”
iOS wins in revenue, Google in downloads
Although games represented about 35% of total iOS App Store and Google Play app downloads in 2016, games generated over 80% of combined direct App Store and Google Play spending worldwide. As in previous years, spending on iOS games was significantly higher than the Google Play total, and was indeed higher than all Android-based stores put together last year.
China and Japan accounted for a significant increase in both producing and consuming mobile games. The top grossing iOS game globally last year was Fantasy Westward Journey, published by China’s NetEase. The most popular Google Play title was Monster Strike, published by Japan’s Mixi. The top grossing handheld console title was Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, published by Japan’s The Pokémon Company.
Alternate Reality and Pokémon Go gain traction
Pokémon GO came in third in 2016 for total game spend across iOS and Google Play, despite being available only for the last six months of the year. The title generated about $950 million in direct spending in 2016. A survey of mobile and handheld gamers in the US revealed that approximately 24 million Americans played an AR game in just September last year, and 56% of this gamer base was under 25 years of age (primarily reflecting Pokémon GO’s popularity among children and young adults).
“2016 was the breakout year for mobile AR games,” says Lewis Ward, research director of gaming and AR/VR at IDC. He pointed out that although it’s unlikely that VR will be able to replicate that success in 2017, its growth will be rapid; and competitive sports gaming will play a huge role in that growth.