“This is the time for mobile gaming brands to take calculated, creative risks. New and established gaming brands alike are entering the mobile space, and they’re bringing their resources and creativity with them. Today’s mobile games embrace the full range, from simple puzzles to fully developed media experiences that rival their console and PC counterparts. There’s nothing wrong with a simple game, but developers and advertisers alike will need to figure out what unique spark they can build and promote to ensure that consumers will see their games through the endless ocean spanning thousands of other titles.”
– Fiona O’Donnell – Senior Director, Mintel Reports

This Report looks at the following areas

  • How mobile gaming brands can respond to ever-increasing competition and app monetization challenges
  • The risks of app sprawl, privacy battles and misleading mobile ads
  • How mobile game brands can effectively expand their target audience, without alienating their core players
  • Momentum for cloud gaming and subscription gaming services as well as how mobile game franchises can benefit

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Share of US adults who play video games, any device vs mobile devices, 2018-21
    • Impact of COVID-19 on mobile gaming
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on gaming and mobile gaming, 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges: what you need to know
    • Forget the console wars, the mobile gaming wars have begun
      • Figure 3: Spending on mobile games, 2021
    • Mobile gaming has the most diverse audience of any platform
      • Figure 4: Plays mobile games vs console games at least monthly, by gender and age, 2021
    • It’s time to evaluate the marketing mix for mobile games
      • Figure 5: Attitudes toward mobile gaming, 2021
    • Mobile gamers who spend money aren’t spending much
      • Figure 6: Estimated monthly spending on mobile games, 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Mobile gaming revenue set to grow in 2021, accounts for more than half the overall market
    • Social and competitive features, a double-edged sword
    • Apple forces mobile advertisers to address consumer privacy
  4. Global Gaming Market Size

    • Mobile gaming revenue forecast to grow in 2021 while PC and console revenue decline
      • Figure 7: Global gaming revenue, 2019-23 (forecast)
  5. Market Factors

    • Targeted harassment toward women in gaming threatens to alienate gamers
    • Consumer privacy vs mobile advertisers: Apple strikes back
    • Consumer adoption of 5G removes major barrier to cloud gaming
      • Figure 8: Interest in 5G, 2021
    • Apple still attracts largest share of mobile gamers, but will it matter?
      • Figure 9: Mobile gamers’ primary smartphone brand, 2021
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Competition in the mobile gaming market escalates
    • Gaming franchises go multiplatform
    • Riot games is building a League of Legends cinematic universe
    • Global esports have arrived in mobile gaming
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Established franchises step into mobile gaming with a big advantage
      • Figure 10: Google Search Interest for “mobile games” and “Fortnite,” 2017-21
    • The rise of the independent game developer
      • Figure 11: Sky: Children of Light summer teaser trailer, June 2020
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Now is the time to forge a mobile gaming legacy
      • Figure 12: League of Legends: Wild Rift cinematic trailer, October 2020
    • The dawn of mobile esports is here
    • A new player enters the cloud gaming arena: Amazon
      • Figure 13: Amazon advertisement for Luna, September 2020
    • Could mobile games build a mod developer community? They should.
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Mobile gaming approaches ubiquity with smartphones leading the charge
    • Mobile could start attracting more competitive gamers
    • The duality of gamer dads: mobile games are for both connection and escape
    • Mobile gamers are satisfied but not necessarily engaged
  10. Gaming Devices Used

    • Gaming approaches market saturation, but mobile brands have a couple advantages
      • Figure 14: Share of US adults who play video games, any device vs mobile devices, 2018-21
    • Tablet gaming struggles to gain mass appeal
      • Figure 15: Gaming devices used, 2021
    • Majority of women aged 18-34 play mobile games
      • Figure 16: Gaming devices used, by gender and age, 2021
    • Fathers engage with gaming across all devices
      • Figure 17: Gaming devices used, by gender and parental status, 2021
    • Interest in gaming consistent across race and household income
    • Mobile games have opportunity to deepen engagement or reengage lapsed players
      • Figure 18: Gaming devices used, by race and household income, 2021
  11. Frequency of Playing Games

    • Majority of gamers play weekly
      • Figure 19: Gaming frequency, 2021
    • Women gamers aged 55+ like to play daily
      • Figure 20: Gaming frequency, by gender and age, 2021
  12. Mobile Gaming Genres Played

    • Staple mobile game genres continue driving consumer interest
      • Figure 21: Mobile gaming genres played, 2021
    • Action, racing and combat strategy games have larger audience in cities
      • Figure 22: Mobile gaming genres played – Select items, by area, 2021
    • AR and open-world mobile games draw young and higher household income gamers
      • Figure 23: Mobile gaming genres played – Select items, by age and household income, 2021
  13. Motivations for Gaming

    • Mobile games are relaxing. Could they become more?
      • Figure 24: Motivations for gaming, 2021
    • For dads, gaming is a source of social connection
      • Figure 25: Motivations for gaming, by gender and parental status, 2021
  14. Spending on Mobile Games

    • Burgeoning interest in subscriptions highlights cloud gaming opportunity
      • Figure 26: Spending on mobile games, 2021
    • Younger gamers drive mobile spending. Brands likely missing opportunities with older gamers.
      • Figure 27: Spending on mobile games, by gender and age, 2021
    • Majority of mobile game purchasers spend less than $30/month on mobile games
      • Figure 28: Estimated monthly spending on mobile games, 2021
  15. Key Drivers of Satisfaction in Mobile Gaming

    • Satisfaction doesn’t mean excitement
      • Figure 29: Key drivers of mobile gaming satisfaction, 2021
    • Methodology
    • Cost, online multiplayer, mobile accessories present areas for improvement
      • Figure 30: Key drivers of mobile gaming satisfaction, 2021
    • Younger mobile gamers show lower satisfaction with mobile game quality
      • Figure 31: Key drivers of mobile gaming satisfaction – Quality of games, by age, 2021
    • Cost is a major barrier to satisfaction for older female gamers
      • Figure 32: Key drivers of mobile gaming satisfaction – Cost of games, by gender and age, 2021
  16. Attitudes toward Mobile Gaming

    • Attitudes regarding playing mobile games varied, a challenge for developers and advertisers
      • Figure 33: Attitudes toward mobile gaming, 2021
    • Consumers may prioritize other hobbies after COVID-19, but mobile game spending will stay healthy
      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward mobile gaming – Priorities and subscriptions, by gender and age, 2021
    • Larger households may be fighting over access to shared gaming devices
      • Figure 35: Attitudes toward mobile gaming – Opportunities to play, by household size, 2021
  17. Mobile Gamer Consumer Segments

    • Factors
      • Figure 36: Mobile gamer segmentation, 2021
    • Mobile Gaming Escapists (30%)
    • Demographics
      • Figure 37: Profile of Mobile Gaming Escapists, 2021
    • Characteristics
      • Figure 38: Prepandemic playing habits and gaming motivations, by mobile gamer segments, 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Mobile Gaming Futurists (35%)
    • Demographics
      • Figure 39: Profile of Mobile Gaming Futurists, 2021
    • Characteristics
      • Figure 40: 5G smartphone ownership and interest and competitor vs social gamer, by mobile gamer segments, 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Mobile Gaming Burnouts (35%)
    • Demographics
      • Figure 41: Profile of Mobile Gaming Burnouts, 2021
    • Characteristics
      • Figure 42: Satisfaction with mobile gaming and any mobile game purchases, by mobile gamer segments, 2021
    • Opportunities
  18. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


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