Mobile games hit a new record by generating more than $40.6 billion in worldwide revenue in 2016, up 18 percent from a year ago, according to research by SuperData Research and Unity Technologies. That money is equal to all global movie box office sales during the same time, the companies said.
Mobile games now account for half of the entire global digital games market. The year’s big hits included new titles such as Pokémon Go and Super Mario Run. The report examines the combined mobile, mobile VR, and overall VR markets, and it’s the first to use data from both companies.
“The sustained growth of the global mobile games market is helping to legitimize games in the traditional media landscape,” says Stephanie Llamas, the vice president of research and strategy of SuperData Research, in a statement. “The size of the market is also attracting the leading players in the gaming market, as can be seen with Activision’s Blizzard deal to buy King and Tencent acquiring Supercell.”
Asia represents the largest mobile games market in the world, producing $24.8 billion in revenue in 2016, while North America and Europe generated $6.9 billion and $5.7 billion respectively.
Americans now play mobile games more often than they watch Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. They spent 5 percent more in 2016 versus 2015, and the companies believe that number will continue to rise.
“Players are installing more apps than ever and are more engaged with mobile games than TV and online videos,” said John Cheng, general manager of Unity Analytics, in a statement. “They play six days a week and watch content only five. It’s been phenomenal to watch engagement on the different mobile and VR platforms grow, and that trend will continue to increase in the foreseeable future.”
During the year, time spent on mobile games grew by 12 percent on iOS and 9 percent on Android respectively, with gamers averaging almost 30 minutes of play time each day. As consumers continue to spend more time playing on mobile devices, the companies expect mobile gaming will continue to give marketers and developers an even greater opportunity to monetize this trend.
In other details, the report found 58 percent of mobile gamers play puzzle games, compared to 40 percent who play action games and 26 percent who play simulation games. Puzzle games don’t require high-level graphics and are ripe for on-the-go play.
However, action games represent 30 percent of the share of game installs by genre, while puzzle games represent 14 percent. Unlike puzzle games, action games are quick to play through, and retain players at 70 percent the rate that puzzle games do.
The U.S. is the only country with more players on iOS than Android. Android gamers represent 78 percent of the global market, but iOS continues to yield higher spending overall.
In the U.S., developers made on average 45 percent more on a player using iOS over Android, but in China, Android players were worth eight times more than those on iOS.
Indonesia tripled its potential for advertisers, seeing a 192 percent increase in installs in 2016. Spenders also play 84 percent more than the average Indian player, creating an undeniable opportunity for developers.
Users engaged with virtual reality more often than they did with games, movies, or TV. Mobile VR users engaged in 48 sessions per month, while PC/console users engaged in 36 sessions per month.
Total VR revenue in 2016 was $1.8 billion, with 6.3 million devices sold. Samsung Gear VR came out as the leader with 4.5 million devices sold due to a low barrier to entry (and promotional deals) as compared to high-price competitors like Oculus.