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Mobile apps and gaming surged to the highest levels ever recorded — with games in particular scoring 14 billion downloads — in the second quarter of 2020, according to mobile data and analytics researcher App Annie.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers downloaded nearly 35 billion new apps and spent $27 billion in Q2 2020. The strong success is no surprise, but App Annie believes that even as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted, the habits folks are forming now will carry over.

That means that game companies can be reasonably confident that the pandemic has shifted habits and the companies that are counting on this growth need not worry that mobile app and game usage will collapse in the unlikely event that people can go back to their normal lives soon. That’s still subject to change and debate, but for now App Annie believes it’s a good bet.

The mobile habit is strong

Weekly game downloads grew 20% in Q2.

Above: Weekly game downloads grew 20% in Q2.

Image Credit: App Annie

App Annie found that monthly time spent in all mobile apps grew 40% year-over-year in Q2 2020, reaching a monthly all-time high of over 200 billion hours during the month of April 2020.

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As some markets, like China and South Korea, begin to recover from COVID-19, regions such as India, Brazil, and Russia are continuing to work to control the outbreak. App usage in all countries grew 15% (U.S.) to 35% (India).

Google Play downloads grew 10% year over year to 25 billion, while Apple’s App Store downloads grew 20% year over year to nearly 10 billion new downloads for the quarter. On Google Play, non-gaming apps accounted for 55% of all downloads, while on Apple’s App Store the figure was slightly higher at 70%. But in terms of spending, games accounted for the majority of consumer spend across both stores at 85% on Google Play and 65% on Apple’s App Store.

On a category level, games, tools, and entertainment were the largest by downloads on Google Play. On Apple’s App Store, games, photo, video, and entertainment remained the largest categories by downloads for four straight quarters. The average user spends four hours and 20 minutes per day on smartphones, even though many of those users have access to PCs at home.

Games stay strong

Above: Worldwide app downloads in Q2.

Image Credit: App Annie

In the first week of Q2 2020, weekly mobile game downloads broke records at over 1.2 billion, and weekly download levels remained at 1 billion on average throughout the quarter, up 20% year over year. Overall downloads in the quarter were 14 billion on both iOS and Android. Quarantined consumers also set new quarterly records for consumer spend in mobile games, with $19 billion spent on purchases through the app stores in Q2 2020 — the largest quarter ever. Consumers spent 15% more in Q2 than in Q1 on mobile games.

By the end of 2020, mobile game spending is set to extend its lead over desktop and home console gaming to more than 2.8 times and 3.1 times, respectively. Games accounted for a higher share of overall downloads on Google Play at 45% than on Apple’s App Store at 30%.

On Google Play, India and Brazil were the largest markets by game downloads, while India and Indonesia had the largest growth of absolute downloads quarter over quarter. From a genre perspective, casual, action, and board games drove the most quarter-over-quarter download growth as consumers sought games to help pass the time and connect them to family and friends during lockdowns.

Growth in the casual category was led by Save The Girl, a casual puzzle game by Applovin, while the action category was led by Free Fire, a battle royale game by Sea’s Garena.

The United States and China were the largest markets for iOS game downloads in Q2 2020, while Saudi Arabia and India were the two largest drivers of growth quarter over quarter. The arcade genre saw the most downloads on Apple’s App Store, followed by the action and simulation genres.

Meanwhile, the largest drivers of quarter-over-quarter growth were the simulation and adventure genres. Growth in the simulation category was led by Fishdom: Deep Dive, a hybrid virtual aquarium simulation with match-3 puzzle elements by Playrix, while the adventure category was led by virtual world-building game Roblox.

Save the Girl, which first launched on iOS in January, followed by Android in March, shot up the charts to become the most downloaded game worldwide in the second quarter. Based on the popular Talking Tom franchise, the My Talking Tom Friends virtual pet game debuted in June 2020 and reached the No. 7 position despite being released in the later half of the quarter.

Updated at 8:30 a.m. Pacific with corrections from App Annie.

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