Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

Consumers spent $22.2 billion on mobile games in 2021’s first quarter, according to market analyst Sensor Tower. This is up a massive 25% from the same period last year.

Most of this growth happened on Google Play, which saw a 31% increase from 2020 Q1 to reach $9.2 billion. The App Store didn’t do too badly itself and grew 21% year-over-year to $13 billion. All of gaming has been seeing growth due to the pandemic, and mobile has been no exception.

“The global pandemic and regional lockdowns have clearly had a major impact on the mobile games industry, with revenue and downloads up substantially in 2020,” Sensor Tower’s Craig Chapple told GamesBeat. “Our forecasts predict that both player spending and installs will continue to rise in 2021, which would mean there is indeed a lasting lift for the sector. However, while player spending is expected to be up in Q2 2021 compared to Q2 2020, downloads may actually decrease in the current quarter due to the outsized increase in installs we saw last year. Growth in installs is then expected to resume from Q3 onward.

“It’s not just the lockdowns that are driving industry-wide growth, however. The top publishers have become masters at live operations, providing substantial amounts of new content and events to keep things fresh and players engaged for the long haul.”


GamesBeat Summit 2023

Join the GamesBeat community in Los Angeles this May 22-23. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.

Register Here

PUBG Mobile was the No. 1 earner during the period, followed by Honor of Kings at No. 2 and Genshin Impact at No. 3.

Top mobile game earners in Q1 2022.

Above: Top mobile game earners in Q1 2022.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

Mobile games also enjoyed a 5% increase in first-time installs with that number reaching 14 billion during the quarter. Join Clash 3D from Supersonic Studios was Q1’s most downloaded game, followed by Among Us and DOP 2.

“The rise the industry saw in 2020 is really an acceleration of trends we’ve been seeing for years, that consumers are increasingly turning to their smartphones for all facets of life, from entertainment to necessities like shopping and health,” Chapple noted. “These habits will be hard to shake as the world recovers from the pandemic, as the growth seen in Q1 2021 shows. But that said, with lockdowns easing, the growth is not expected to be as fast as last year by the end of 2021, and there are also the changes to the IDFA on iOS that could cause headwinds in the mobile sector.”

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.