11.2 Billion Mobile Games Downloaded In The 2nd Quarter of 2019; Are Mobile Games An Emerging Market?

11.2 Billion Mobile Games Downloaded In The 2nd Quarter of 2019; Are Mobile Games An Emerging Market?
Credit: PlayStation via YouTube

Mobile gamers get a lot of crap from console and PC gamers, but according to a new report from last quarter (Q2), mobile games might be one of the biggest growing markets in the gaming industry.

From April to June, Q2, gamers on iOS and Android downloaded 11.2 billion games. That’s an 11 followed by nine zeros—a colossal number. All of that happened in only one three-month period. Most of the game downloads occurred on Google Play, which had a 265% increase in game downloads over the Apple App Store.

Now, all of that means nothing if those game downloads didn’t lead to revenue. But there’s a large body of evidence to suggest that it did, which could be a significant problem for gamers—most mobile games earn their way on microtransactions.

While games only accounted for 35% of all downloads for mobile apps in Q2, they were also responsible for 75% of all spending in both Google Play and the Apple App Store. It’s not hard to see why: microtransactional systems are often compared to gambling. Both addictions produce similar chemical reactions in the brain. Whenever a player loses, they feel an urge to purchase more so they can win.

But the revenue from microtransactions likely means mobile developers will continue to produce these types of games in greater and greater numbers. It also means the trend might end up spilling over into console and PC games too. (In fact, it probably already has.)

These trends are not only connected to video games. Even apps like Tinder have started to gamify their services by offering microtransactions to people who “lose” at the app’s supposed regular functions. Tinder offers its users the ability to buy things like ‘Boost’ and ‘Superlikes,’ which give the user more opportunities to match up with a partner. Both features are reminiscent of microtransactions in games.

Some of the other aspects of the Q2 report were more benign. For example, the United States retained its title as the largest market for mobile games, but China and Japan were not far behind. RPGs as well as strategy and action games brought in the most revenue overall. Meanwhile, the top three categories of game downloads were arcade, action, and casual. All of this information came from App Annie’s App Index Report for Q2 2019.

But mobile games aren’t all bad, either. Many small, non-microtransaction titles appear on mobile platforms too. And games such as Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite have revolutionized the gaming industry. Still, fans should keep an eye on trends like these if they want to preserve the integrity and quality of their favorite games.