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

Surprisingly, mobile gaming is often not mobile. Even prior to the pandemic, there were more consumers playing a mobile game in front of their TVs than on their commutes, at work or at school. Mobile gaming’s ability to be played on the go has helped it have broad appeal – but that mobility does not define the mobile gaming market.

The mobile gaming market size has been helped by at-home gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic; with more than half of gamers said they were playing more as a result of the pandemic and lockdowns. As Canada opens back up, the mobility of these games will help keep the category flexible and able to adapt to consumers spending less time at home.

The biggest challenge for mobile gaming is the disconnect between how many consumers use it and how many are willing to pay. Fewer than half spend money on these games and most of those who do spend small amounts. The result is that much of the category’s success is dependent on the few consumers who do pay and advertising partners.

Perhaps the most exciting opportunity for this category is not the games themselves – but its increasingly important role in the overall tech industry. A significant proportion of consumers factor mobile gaming into their mobile device and smartphone plan purchase decisions – and it will be a catalyst for many consumers to upgrade to 5G by making that network’s benefits tangible. As simple as mobile games may seem, they have increasingly become a central cog in the consumer electronics industry.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our Canada Technology and Telecoms market research.

Quickly understand

  • Mobile gaming behaviors, including smartphones vs tablets and a comparison to PCs/consoles.
  • An analysis of where and why consumers play mobile games.
  • The types of games played and the role of betting in mobile gaming.
  • The types of ads consumers see in games and their experience with clicking through.
  • How the mobile gaming category is affecting smartphone, tablet and mobile network demand.

Covered in this report

Mobile Games: Angry Birds, Candy Crush, NBA 2K, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Pokemon Go.

Brands: Razer, Google (Google Play Pass, Google Stadia), Apple (Apple Arcade), Steel Series, Epic Games, Netflix.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Scott Stewart, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Mobile gaming may not be the quintessential video game experience in the same way that Nintendo or PlayStation are – but it represents a billion-dollar category that is used by half of the adult population in Canada. And that broad appeal makes it a particularly useful tool for advertisers to leverage, too.
Combined with the impacts this category has on smartphone, tablet and mobile data demand, it is clear that these ostensibly simple games play a major role within the broader tech industry.
Scott Stewart
Senior Tech & Media Research Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on mobile gaming
      • Figure 1: Immediate, short and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on mobile gaming, April 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Mobile game usage is high and spans across demographics
    • Mobile gaming has ripple effects across other categories
    • Simplicity is the key in mobile gaming
    • Mobile gaming is a useful tool for advertisers
    • Challenges
    • There is a disconnect between consumer usage and spend
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Mobile gaming has succeeded despite a recent lack of mobility
    • Flexibility is an important advantage for mobile gaming
  4. The Market – By the Numbers

    • Mobile gaming is large and expected to grow
    • Top mobile games illustrate how consumers play
  5. Market Factors

    • Network connectivity makes mobile gaming accessible for everyone
    • LTE speeds are available to essentially all Canadians
      • Figure 2: LTE population coverage in Canada, 2013-19
    • Most Canadians have mobile data included in their plans
      • Figure 3: Percentage of subscribers with a data plan, 2013-19
    • Mobile data usage is increasing
      • Figure 4: Average mobile data subscriber monthly data usage (GB), 2017-19
    • An important 5G milestone is around the corner
    • Changes in commutes could reduce mobile gaming occasions
    • The cloud blurs the line between PC/console and mobile gaming
    • Impact of COVID-19 on mobile gaming
    • Immediate impacts (2020)
    • Short term (2021)
    • Recovery (2022-25)
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Companies are gravitating towards mobile gaming
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Google and Apple use a similar subscription strategy in mobile gaming
    • Accessories are enabling more complex mobile gaming
      • Figure 5: Razer Instagram post, May 2021
      • Figure 6: Steel Series Instagram post, May 2021
    • Apple is battling with game developers
      • Figure 7: Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite – #FreeFortnite, August 2020
    • Mobile games are backed by large development companies
    • Pokémon GO illustrates the unique marketing potential of mobile gaming
      • Figure 8: Pokémon GO Instagram post, May 2021
    • Third-party app stores do exist, though remain niche
  8. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Overall mobile gaming behaviour
    • Mobile game playing occasions
    • Types of mobile games played
    • Advertising in mobile games
    • Mobile gaming’s impact on other industries
  9. Overall Mobile Gaming Behaviour

    • Mobile device ownership is a key factor in mobile gaming
      • Figure 9: Tech device ownership, July 2019-March 2021
    • Half of consumers have played video games on a mobile device recently
      • Figure 10: Devices used to play video games in the past three months, March 2021
    • A lack of gender differences is meaningful for mobile gaming
      • Figure 11: Devices used to play video games in the past three months, men vs women, March 2021
    • Mobile games are successful with older Canadians
      • Figure 12: Devices used to play video games in the past three months, by age, March 2021
    • Demographic differences are not limited to age and gender
      • Figure 13: Devices used to play video games in the past three months, by race, March 2021
      • Figure 14: Mobile devices used to play video games in the past three months, Quebec vs overall, March 2021
    • Almost half of mobile video game players play on a daily basis
      • Figure 15: Video game frequency among mobile game players, March 2021
      • Figure 16: Mobile game session length, March 2021
    • While smartphones lead, iOS and Android are neck and neck
      • Figure 17: Mobile devices used to play video games in the past three months, by age, March 2021
    • Operating systems appear to have minimal impact on mobile gaming
      • Figure 18: Mobile operating systems used to play video games, March 2021
    • Mobile gamers are looking to pass the time
      • Figure 19: Reasons for playing video games, March 2021
      • Figure 20: Reasons for playing video games, by age, March 2021
  10. Mobile Gaming Occasions

    • Mobile gaming is not as “mobile” as it seems
      • Figure 21: Mobile gaming occasions, March 2021
    • Half of mobile gamers play on the go
      • Figure 22: Mobile gaming occasions, by age, March 2021
      • Figure 23: Mobile gaming occasions, by employment and student status, March 2021
    • On-the-go players spend more money on mobile gaming
      • Figure 24: Money spent on mobile gaming in the past three months, by mobile gaming occasion, March 2021
    • They play a wider variety of games, too
      • Figure 25: Number of different types of games played, by mobile gaming occasion, March 2021
    • Future travel behaviour could impact mobile gaming
  11. Types of Mobile Games Played

    • Puzzle games are the most common among mobile players
      • Figure 26: Types of mobile video games typically played, March 2021
    • Puzzles and word games are more popular among women
      • Figure 27: Types of mobile video games typically played, men vs women, March 2021
    • They are also driven by older consumers
      • Figure 28: Types of mobile video games typically played, by age, March 2021
    • Few Canadians are betting real money in mobile games
    • Middle-aged men are the most involved with in-game betting
      • Figure 29: Types of mobile card/casino video games typically played, by age, March 2021
    • Two thirds of mobile game players have no interest in betting in games
      • Figure 30: Gambled money within a mobile game, March 2021
      • Figure 31: Gambled money within a mobile game: I’ve never done this and would not be willing to try it, by age, March 2021
    • PC/console games are a small category on mobile devices
      • Figure 32: Call of Duty®: Mobile – Official Launch Trailer, October 2019
    • Young men are the most likely to play PC/console-type games on mobile devices
      • Figure 33: Types of mobile video games typically played, 18-34-year-old men vs overall, March 2021
  12. Advertising in Mobile Games

    • The mobile gaming category cannot depend on consumer spending
      • Figure 34: Amount spent on mobile games in the past three months, March 2021
      • Figure 35: Have not spent money on mobile games in the past three months, by age, March 2021
    • There is a vast difference between free and paid download activity
      • Figure 36: Experience/interest in acquiring mobile games, March 2021
    • Few consumers are spending money in-game, either
      • Figure 37: Experience/interest in spending money within mobile games, March 2021
    • Mobile games offer a more interactive form of advertising
      • Figure 38: Experience/interest in mobile game advertisements, March 2021
    • Young gamers are a key opportunity for advertisers
      • Figure 39: Experience/interest in mobile game advertisements (NET: done this), by age, March 2021
    • Different ad types cater to different marketing objectives
      • Figure 40: Have purchased a product/service based on a mobile ad, by experience with mobile game advertisements (NET: done this), March 2021
    • In-game advertising can go too far
      • Figure 41: Have stopped playing a mobile game due to too many ads (NET: done this), by age, March 2021
  13. Mobile Gaming’s Impact on Other Industries

    • A third of players consider gaming when choosing a mobile device
      • Figure 42: I chose a mobile device with gaming in mind (% agree), by age, March 2021
      • Figure 43: I chose a mobile device with gaming in mind (% agree), by age and household income, March 2021
    • Mobile operating system has no effect on this attitude
    • Mobile gaming habits can drive higher mobile data usage
      • Figure 44: I chose a smartphone plan with gaming in mind (% agree), by age, March 2021
    • Consumers are conscious of their out-of-home gaming behaviour
      • Figure 45: Fido Mobile Instagram post, March 2021
      • Figure 46: Freedom Mobile Instagram post, February 2021
    • Memory space issues could drive demand for cloud-based gaming
    • Mobile gaming is a tangible example of 5G’s benefits
      • Figure 47: It’s not you, it’s your network, April 2021
      • Figure 48: Attitudes towards 5G and mobile gaming (% agree), by age, March 2021
    • Quebec consumers will be a tougher sell
      • Figure 49: Attitudes towards 5G and mobile gaming (% agree), Quebec vs overall, March 2021
    • 5G is useful for action and betting games
      • Figure 50: I expect 5G network service to improve my mobile gaming experience (% agree), by types of games played, March 2021
  14. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Mintel Trend Drivers
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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