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UK Mobile Gaming Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Mobile Gaming market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report looks at games available on mobile devices (ie smartphones and tablets). Games on handheld consoles (eg Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita) are not within the scope of this report.

Market size data represents the value of app purchases made through Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play app store, plus the value of in-app purchases made through those apps, based on data supplied by App Annie (see below). Other terms used in this report:

  • Freemium – games that are downloadable for free but offer IAPs (in-app purchases). Subscription/membership fees that unlock content for a certain period of time are included under the term ‘freemium’.
  • Casual games – video games with simple mechanics and controls typically played in web browsers, through social media or on mobile devices.
  • Core games – video games with deep mechanics and more complex controls that are typically played on PCs or dedicated games consoles (eg PS4, Xbox One).
  • Paid apps/games – apps that users pay an upfront fee to download.
  • In-app advertising – advertisements found within apps such as banner ads, video ads, etc.

Key questions explained

  • Will more games choose to bypass the Play Store?
  • What is the effect of cross-play and cross-progress?
  • Do purchasable cosmetic items translate from core gaming platforms to mobile?

What you need to know

Mobile gaming is the largest segment of the mobile device app market, and is expected to remain that way in forecasts up to 2023. Games are becoming increasingly more advanced, with some offering high-quality graphics, online real-time multiplayer, and gameplay that closely resemble PC (Personal Computer) and console gaming.

Whilst these have created new revenue opportunities in the form of in-game purchases, advertising, and eSports, the growth of high-spec gaming might be restricted simply because people value their phones too much – if mobile gaming is too battery intensive it will lose its casual “dip-in” nature. Despite this, developers are flocking to mobile as a viable platform for game releases, either as spin-offs to established franchises or as stand-alone games based on established intellectual property.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Andrew Moss, a leading analyst in the Consumer Technology sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Although it is possible that the app store model will face disruption from developers choosing to offer their products outside of established stores, revenue from games is expected to show strong growth and remain the dominant app category on mobile. In-game purchasing has remained an effective monetisation method, and has been boosted by the effective use of in-game currencies, loot boxes, and cosmetic items to craft a perception of value for these digital items. Andrew Moss
Technology Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Gaming revenue growth to continue
              • Other app categories closing the gap
                • Gaming the largest app category for purchasing
                  • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                    • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                      • Messenger apps offer instant-access social gaming
                        • Companies and brands
                          • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                            • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                              • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                  • Google maps supports location-based games
                                    • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                      • The consumer
                                        • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                          • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                            • Figure 1: Regularity of app usage, by category, July 2018
                                          • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                            • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                              • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                  • Figure 2: Types of purchases made in mobile games, July 2018
                                                • Word of mouth most likely to prompt discovery
                                                  • Brand awareness through mobile and console game spin-offs
                                                    • Game trailers remain an effective promotional tool
                                                      • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                        • Social gaming most popular with friends
                                                          • Figure 3: Social mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                        • Competing for rewards an appealing aspect
                                                          • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                            • Daily rewards a simple way to foster loyalty
                                                              • Data usage not a deal-breaker
                                                                • Multi-platforming provides additional revenue streams
                                                                  • Figure 4: Barriers and incentives to mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                • What we think
                                                                • Issues and Insights

                                                                  • Will more games choose to bypass the Play Store?
                                                                    • The facts
                                                                      • The implications
                                                                        • The effect of cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                          • The facts
                                                                            • The implications
                                                                              • Do purchasable cosmetic items translate from core gaming platforms to mobile?
                                                                                • The facts
                                                                                  • The implications
                                                                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Strong gaming revenue growth
                                                                                      • Other app categories are catching up
                                                                                        • Gaming remains main app category for purchasing
                                                                                          • Game franchises continue to expand to mobile
                                                                                            • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                                              • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                                                                                                • Innovation creating new trends in mobile gaming
                                                                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                  • Gaming revenue growth to continue
                                                                                                    • Figure 5: Forecast for the value of the UK mobile gaming market, 2013-23
                                                                                                  • Other app categories closing the gap
                                                                                                    • Figure 6: Mobile gaming and total mobile device app revenue in the UK Apple App Store and Google Play, 2013-23
                                                                                                    • Figure 7: Top app categories on the UK Apple App Store and Google Play, by revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                  • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                                                                    • Gaming the largest app category for purchasing
                                                                                                      • Figure 8: App purchasing, July 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 9: In-app purchasing, July 2018
                                                                                                    • Game franchises continue to expand to mobile
                                                                                                      • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                                                        • Cross-play in a competitive environment
                                                                                                          • Spend on mobile advertising increases
                                                                                                            • Figure 10: Mobile adspend as a proportion of total digital expenditure, 2010-17
                                                                                                          • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                                                                                                            • Innovation creating new trends in mobile gaming
                                                                                                              • Augmented reality and real-time location services
                                                                                                                • Massively-multiplayer games
                                                                                                                  • Increasing pressure to protect children in games
                                                                                                                    • Messenger apps offer instant-access social gaming
                                                                                                                    • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                      • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                                                                                                                        • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                                                                                                                          • Niantic maintain a dedicated following
                                                                                                                            • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                                                                                                              • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                                                                                                                • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                                                                                                                • Market Share

                                                                                                                                  • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 11: Top mobile games on the iOS App Store, by UK revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 12: Top mobile games on Google Play, by UK revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                                                  • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                                                                                                                                    • Niantic maintain a dedicated following
                                                                                                                                    • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                      • Bethesda announces RPG based on the Elder Scrolls series
                                                                                                                                        • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                                                                                                                          • New Apple iPhones renew focus on gaming
                                                                                                                                            • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                                                                                                                              • EA revives its Command & Conquer series with a mobile game
                                                                                                                                                • Google maps supports location-based games
                                                                                                                                                  • Location-based gaming expands with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
                                                                                                                                                    • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 13: The ASUS Republic of Gaming smartphone
                                                                                                                                                    • Apple removes independent gambling apps
                                                                                                                                                    • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                      • Niantic and King’s advertising reflects dominant position in mobile gaming
                                                                                                                                                        • TV and digital display advertising lead promotional materials
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 14: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on mobile gaming, Aug 2017-Jul 2018
                                                                                                                                                        • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                          • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                                                                                                                                            • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                                                                                                                                              • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                                                                                                                                                • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                                                                                                                                                  • Virtual currency creates an in-game economy
                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                                                                                                                                      • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                                                                                                                                        • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                                                                                                                                          • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                                                                                                                                          • Gaming App Usage

                                                                                                                                                                            • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                                                                                                                                                              • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Regularity of app usage, by category, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Women match men on mobile gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Regularity of gaming app usage, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                            • Genres Played

                                                                                                                                                                              • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                                                                                                                                                                • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Genres of mobile game played, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • In-game Purchasing

                                                                                                                                                                                • Virtual currency creates an in-game economy
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 18: Purchasing of in-game currency, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Randomised bundles help maintain an item economy
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Types of purchases made in mobile games, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Game Discovery

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Word of mouth most likely to prompt discovery
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Motivations for game downloads, by all users and in-app purchasers, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brand awareness through mobile and console game spin-offs
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Game trailers remain an effective promotional tool
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Social Gaming

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Social gaming most popular with friends
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Social mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Competing for rewards an appealing aspect
                                                                                                                                                                                            • In-game communication is not yet refined on mobile
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Appeal of social gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Barriers and Incentives to Gaming

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Daily rewards a simple way to foster loyalty
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Data usage not a deal-breaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dedicated gaming devices pique the interest of over a quarter of gamers
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Multi-platforming provides additional revenue streams
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 23: Barriers and incentives to mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations, and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Market forecast
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Forecast of UK mobile gaming revenue, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Forecast methodology