Games might have been a minority among app downloads for 2018, but they accounted for nearly 75 percent of revenue, App Annie reports. Live multiplayer elements such as battle royale helped generate higher mobile game revenues than PC/Mac, console and handheld console games put together.
Battle Royale games like PUBG: Mobile and Free Fire are driving revenue growth in the mobile sector, according to a new report by App Annie and IDC. In the report, “Gaming Spotlight 2018 Review Report,” App Annie says three out of the top five games by consumer spend featured real-time multiplayer game elements. It is significant, App Annie notes, that game modes like PvP battle, co-op play and the MMORPG genre are steeped in PC-gaming heritage.
Seven out of 10 of the top revenue-generating mobile games were released by publishers with a PC or home console gaming background—Sony, Tencent, mixi, Activision Blizzard, NCSoft, Netease and Bandai Namco.
“The fact that mobile devices are powerful enough to run games of this magnitude and even work with people playing on PCs and consoles is astounding,” said App Annie’s director of market insights Amir Ghodrati in a statement. “EA’s already said that they’re interested in bringing APEX legends to mobile and are looking into cross-platform functionality, so it’s a trend we expect to continue in 2019.”
IDC conducted US gamer surveys in both 2015 and 2018 and asked if respondents played casual-leaning games, hardcore-leaning games or both. In a three-year span, the number of hardcore-leaning players grew 3.5 percent. Hardcore-leaning titles include battle royale, fighting, flight/air combat simulators, massive online battle arena (MOBA), racing, shooting or sports. The battle royale genre was not included as an option in the 2015 survey and flight/air combat simulators were not included in the 2018 version.
In 2018, direct spending on mobile games exceeded the combined spending total on home console, PC/Mac and handheld console games by nearly 20 percent, a 14 percent jump since 2016.
A majority of revenue (55 percent) from the top multiplayer games originated from Asia-Pacific, App Annie noted, despite China’s nine-month new game license freeze. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom experienced rapid growth in 2018, giving mobile revenues an extra push.
Apple is rumored to be planning a game subscription service, added Ghodrati, saying, “it will be very interesting to see the impact this could have on the industry in 2019 and beyond.
“Since well over 95 percent of gaming consumer spend come from in-app purchases on mobile, a steady subscription revenue could provide an opportunity for paid apps to generate more revenue (and on a consistent basis),” said Ghodrati.