More than 40% of mobile gamers have paid for bots to help them win in games, according to those who answered a survey from mobile measurement firm Adjust. Cheaters use bots — machines that perform repetitive tasks in an app or website — to automate gameplay, giving them an unfair advantage over real players.
Growth in mobile gaming was already growing, and it’s been exploding since the outbreak of coronavirus. Data from Adjust suggests that installs in March have more than doubled from the same time last year. And with apps encompassing 81% of the time spent on digital gaming around the globe already, it promises to be an important year of growth for mobile gaming.
By 2021, more than one in four people are expected to be active mobile gamers, and are predicted to spend more than $180 billion on mobile games. But this growth has seen a corresponding rise in in-app bot fraud. CTO Paul Muller is speaking at our conference GamesBeat Summit Digital about user acquisition and games.
Googling the words “bot for mobile games” yields upwards of 79.5 million results. Adjust released the results of a survey today that finds 41% of mobile gamers have paid for a bot to win, spending an average of $65.
The research examines the profile of players in the U.S., as well as the impact bots have on a game’s community and economy, including:
- 31% of respondents say they always play against a bot.
- 63% say that bots are negatively impacting the game, its community, and economy. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those who feel this way are Generation Y, and 61% are those who play every day.
- 12% of Generation Z respondents paid more than $201 for a bot — the most of any generational cohort.
- e-Marketer reports that the majority of mobile gamers in the U.S. are female; however 72% of gamers surveyed by Adjust who had used a bot identified as male, versus only 28% of female gamers. Generationally, half of gaming bot users surveyed were either Generation Y or Generation X.
In addition, when asked which statements about bots applied to them, Adjust said that 39% of respondents think that bots ruin the game for everyone else. 37% say they don’t think it’s fair that people can use bots. And 27% think people should be able to use bots if they want, and 28% say they are likely to use a bot if they know other people are doing so.
Yaron Oliker, CEO of Adjust’s Unbotify division, said in a statement that bots not only negatively impact the social experience by taking the fun out of competing, but they also fundamentally change the business mode of the game. Oliker said that bots can cause companies to lose their most valuable users, which decreases revenue and could even damage the company’s reputation. Secondly, people who pay for bots don’t make in-game purchases, also leading to loss of app revenue, he said.
N3twork, a maker of Legendary: Game of Heroes, noticed early on how bots were being used by millions of people from around the world in order to cheat to win, and also to profit. Because the scope and complexity of cheating with bots is constantly evolving, N3twork needed to rely on more than good game design to stop cheaters and sought additional support to help identify and eliminate bot use in its games. The company teamed up with Unbotify.
Dan Barnes, chief operating officer of N3twork, said in a statement that protecting the integrity of leaderboards, sometimes which are tied to cash payouts, is essential to keeping a game viable and fun. He said that keeping bots from gameplay is an ever-evolving challenge.
The survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Adjust. It polled over 500 U.S. gamers between February 21 and February 24.