The pandemic is the gift that keeps on giving to the gaming world. According to Apps Flyer’s annual State of Gaming report, mobile games globally saw a 45 percent surge in installs compared to last year as the crisis led scores of new players to try mobile gaming for the first time.

Apps Flyer’s data show that organic installs grew by 33 percent while non-organic installs (NOI) increased by 69 percent, the result of competition around organic app discovery.

Globally, hyper casual, casual and to some extent midcore games grew at double the rate of hardcore and social casino games. NOI installs for hyper casual games saw a 250 percent surge while total installs of hyper casual games grew by 90 percent. 

Realizing the opportunity to reach pandemic-driven mobile gamers, hyper casual games accelerated their user acquisition (UA) budgets. But to remain competitive, mobile games must utilize granular segmentation, bid optimization and predictive modeling in determining player journeys, suggests Apps Flyer.

NOI installs grew by 72 percent for midcore games, 58 percent for casual games, 27 percent for social casino games and 21 percent for hardcore games.

In-app spending (IAP) picked up in April then peaked in May with a 25 percent increase compared to February. IAP dipped slightly from May to June but peaked again in July.

As IAP revenue surged 67 percent from February to August, in-app ads revenue (IAA) declined 16 percent during the same time period, perhaps indicating players’ lower tolerance for ads this year.

Notable findings for the US mobile game market include a 35 percent increase in cost per installs (CPIs) post-lockdown, namely from May to September following the return of big brand budgets. Through August, there was a 27 increase in IAP revenue on iOS devices compared to an 11 percent decrease on Android.

As the share of paying users in the US grew by 25 percent since lockdown, the US also saw a 30 percent decline in revenue generated by ads, driven by hardcore, social casino and midcore games.

Apps Flyer’s research shows that remarketing drivers a significant performance lift in retention, share of paying users and average revenue per paying users, particularly in hardcore and social casino games. 

Despite its effectiveness and more cost-friendly nature, its adoption is relatively low, particularly among midcore and casual games. To address this, mobile apps should explore remarketing via paid channels and use push, email and social to improve overall re-engagement.

Additionally, it’ll be important for mobile games to introduce or enhance the social layer in their game to achieve organic growth that isn’t dependent solely on app store discovery.