The New Mobile Gamers: How to Reach & Retain Them

Sep 25, 2019

Luke Geoghegan

If 10 years ago I had said ‘describe a gamer’, most people would probably have described a teenage boy, hiding in his room, playing video-games all night long.

Fast-forward to today, and gaming is a game-changing business for everyone. The industry has shifted, and that one image certainly does not fit all. 

We know mobile accounts for a lot of its popularity – 50% of mobile app users play games – generating a staggering $68.5bn in global business. And gaming appeals to all ages and demographics. The gender split of players is now 51% female, 49% male, with one-third of all gamers between the ages of 36-50.

As more people turn to their mobile devices for quick entertainment, modern gamers are a far cry from that generic stereotype. 

The gaming app industry continues to evolve. But if publishers are to capitalize on this prime-time opportunity, they need to understand the habits of their ideal audiences and adapt their strategy accordingly. How? With a more granular understanding of the market and how users behave within it.

From Mid-Core to Hyper-Casual

We know that the image of a typical gamer isn’t what it used to be. But how people are playing games is changing too.

The number one time when people play mobile games is while they are multitasking at home. This is more often than not followed by waiting for someone, when traveling, and while taking a well-earned break. Players are increasingly looking for snippets of entertainment that they can enjoy in short bursts, and mobile provides the perfect opportunity for this. 

This evolution of gaming habits has led to the emergence of new categories and audiences. 

Today, mobile gaming can be split into three distinct categories;

  • Mid-core: Accessible larger-scale mobile games, that are generally more complex.  These typically include saving features that allow users to record their playing progress and return later on. 

    Games such as Clash Royale and the Final Fantasy series would fall into this category, for example. 
  • Casual: Games that do not usually require a significant amount of time to play, and can be played in small periods of time. Unlike ’mid-core’ games, casual titles take less time to reach the final stage, and often do not contain a save feature. 

    Solitaire, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds can be categorized as casual games.  
  • Hyper-casual: Lightweight games that anyone can just pick up and play. They have simple mechanics that offer instant gameplay, so people can literally “tap and play” whenever they want. 

    Games such as Flappy Bird, Helix Jump, and Paper.io fit nicely into this hyper-casual category.

But while your app(s) might sit comfortably in one of these categories, do you know how to best harness the key audiences that fall into all three? 

Could I Have Your Retention, Please?

To answer this, Ogury took a deep-dive into the gaming apps landscape, to assess how it had evolved over a 12 month period. Using our own first-party, consented mobile user journey data, we ran a retention study for a specific large gaming publisher partner. The study analyzed 28 games across mid-core, casual and hyper-casual categories, and looked at the behavior of over 38m users worldwide between January and December 2018. 

Looking at the evolution of market share and unique users, you can see that the market picture from the beginning to the end of the year is completely different. 

Back in January, mid-core and casual gaming saw the largest market share. But as the year progressed we can see that this new hyper-casual category has emerged to become the most dominant. The market has evolved significantly, and, based on these numbers, is likely to continue to do so.

But how exactly do users behave within each of these categories? 

In order to look closer, we analyzed how the ideal users of this particular gaming publisher engaged within each gaming app category.

Here we can see that although mid-core inactivity is bigger than hyper-casual, the ‘very active’ percentage of this category – those that use this type of app more than three times a week – is larger overall. 

Hyper-casual, however, sees a larger percentage of medium activity overall, i.e. those that use this type of app twice a week. 

Having learned this, our publisher partner adapted their ad strategy to reach the right users with the right tactics. 

  • Mid-core users tend to log in more often than other category players. To avoid fatigue, a less frequent ad delivery schedule would more likely resonate with this audience.  
  • For hyper-casual users, who log in slightly less regularly overall, a more frequent delivery may be appropriate.

Know Your Users, Drive Results

The market is constantly evolving, and if you want to stay ahead of the game your strategy needs to evolve with it. By truly grasping the behavior of different users within each of the categories, you can adapt your ads strategy and drive results.

Ogury Active Insights enables publishers to understand the performance, market share, the growth and the user activity of any app that matters to them. You can leverage this to uncover the market, discover your ideal users and evolve your own strategy over time. And with 30 days of free access for new publishers, why not start your own evolution today.

To learn more about Ogury Active Insights and how you can create a successful strategy, feel free to get in touch with me directly: remy.cottin@ogury.co 

Rémy Cottin, Head of Publisher Success, EMEA