The 2023 Mobile Gaming Survey

July 25, 2023

Close your eyes. Who do you see when you picture a “gamer”?

Are they on a console or a phone? What types of games do they prefer? Early 20s or middle-aged? 

The reality is there’s no one-size-fits-all – especially within the mobile gaming space. New users exist across various demographic groups; the only trick is finding them. 

By the Numbers: Insights for Scoring Big with Mobile Gamers

We surveyed* 25K US adults across our media portfolio for a snapshot of current gaming app usage, likelihood to make in-app purchases, and the channels that motivate users to install new games. We’re breaking down the findings and sharing key takeaways to help mobile marketers level up their user acquisition (UA) and retention strategies. Download the full report here or read on for more.

First things first, let’s cover the basics:

74% of respondents have at least one gaming app on their phones. Compared to other generations, Gen Zers have the most apps (81% boast four or more) and are most likely to download new ones. The same goes for those who prefer role-playing and simulation games. Across segments, the more apps a gamer has, the more likely they will download new ones within the next year. 

Gaming App Insights: 
- Number of mobile gaming apps consumers have on their phones 
- Expected change in number of mobile gaming apps over the next 12 months

When it comes to the types of games people prefer, puzzle apps – like match-3, word, and trivia games – reign supreme, followed by role-playing (RPG, simulation), casino/gambling (slots, poker, bingo), and classic games (board, card, dice). Women rank casino games second to puzzles, while men are more drawn to RPG games (they are 87% more likely than women to prefer this category).

Gaming App Insights: 
Types of mobile games consumers prefer to play

Now on to the important takeaways for marketers… 

In-app ads are not the only way to reach gamers.

Respondents are divided as to whether they prefer ads within or outside the app environment. 48% say both formats are equally as likely to motivate them to download and play a new game, with the remaining 52% split evenly among those who prefer in-app and external ads. Regardless of channel, the opportunity to earn a reward (32%) and watching a gameplay video (16%) are some of the top factors motivating consumers to download and play new games. 

Takeaway for Mobile Marketers

Consumers are split on where they prefer to learn about new games, which means your UA strategy should be too. Don’t underestimate the value of exploring alternative UA channels outside the app ecosystem to acquire new users. Work with an influencer to create short-form video content highlighting gameplay or leverage a performance marketing partner to launch a rewarded CPE campaign. A diversified media mix that includes a combination of in-app ads, social ads, and rewarded channels will be key to helping mobile marketers unlock new audiences and drive profitable app growth.

Rewarded traffic is valuable traffic.

38% of respondents have downloaded and played a new game in exchange for a monetary reward. This may mean completing a “deal” on an offerwall to earn reward credits or watching a rewarded video ad. Compared to other generations, Millennials and Gen X are most likely to have downloaded a game in exchange for a monetary reward, while Gen Z is least likely to have done so.

While there may be some skepticism around the value of rewarded traffic, 65% of rewarded users make in-app purchases versus just 44% of non-rewarded users. The frequency of in-app purchases also varies across traffic types – 34% of rewarded users make in-app purchases as often as once weekly (compared to just 20% of those who have never downloaded in exchange for a reward).

Takeaway for Mobile Marketers

Rewarded traffic may get a bad rap, but the data reveals those who have downloaded a gaming app in exchange for a reward are 48% more likely to make in-app purchases than non-rewarded users. Driving high LTV users, rewarded ads are a win-win for consumers and marketers alike. Because they are optional to engage with, they make the ad experience less intrusive and allow users to self-select offers based on their interests. This means mobile marketers only connect with highly-engaged users who have opted into test-driving their game.

Men splurge more frequently on in-app purchases than women.

Demographics like age and gender have a major impact on purchase behavior in mobile games. While men and women are similar in terms of the number of games they have and plans to download new ones, they differ when it comes to in-app spending. Men are 20% more likely than women to make in-app purchases while playing games and lean more heavily toward gambling (versus women who are just as likely to spend money on gambling as in-game currency). 

Gaming App Insights: 
- Frequency of in-app purchases in mobile games (results by gender)
- Types of in-app purchases in mobile games (results by gender)

Sharp divides are also apparent across age groups. Gen Z and millennials are more likely than other generations to make in-app purchases, while over half of Baby Boomers (56%) have never spent money while playing a mobile game.

Gaming App Insights: 
Frequency of in-app purchases in mobile games (results by age)

In terms of what they spend their money on – gambling sits at the top of the list for Millennials (they are 150% more likely than Gen Z to gamble in-app), while Gen Z would rather splurge on in-game items (18%) and the ability to customize their avatar and gameplay (18%).

Takeaway for Mobile Marketers

The work does not stop once you get a new user into your app. In-app purchases are a great way to drive revenue, but you need to incentivize users with the right offerings to keep them spending in your game. Factors like age and gender play a role in when and how users make in-app purchases, so be sure to tailor your messaging and re-engagement campaigns based on each audience segment’s needs and preferences.

Closing Thoughts: 3 Key Gaming App Insights

– As economic pressures continue to rise and consumers search for deals and ways to earn extra cash, incentivized traffic is poised to become more prevalent in mobile UA.

– Not only are rewarded campaigns via third-party partners (like Fluent!) a great way to drive app installs, mobile marketers can also leverage rewards to influence down-funnel engagement via rewarded in-app events like reaching a specific level of gameplay. 

– Not all gamers behave the same way, and whether you’re looking to drive new users or monetize existing ones, it’s important to take a tailored approach to your acquisition and retention strategies.

Partner with Fluent to Drive Growth for Your Mobile Gaming App

We’ve given you a glimpse into Fluent’s 10 million monthly active users – ready to unlock the value of our unique audience? Get in touch with us here to learn how we can help you find and convert the most highly engaged users for your mobile game.

*This survey was conducted online via Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Data was self-reported by 25K US adults from May 16 – 18, 2023. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general US Population.