Mobile game downloads and revenue plummet as multiple factors bite

US consumers are downloading fewer mobile games this year than last, thanks to a combination of factors including the end of COVID restrictions and rapidly rising inflation.

Of 14 mobile game genres tracked by app analytics firm Sensor Tower, only one saw its downloads increase in the first half of 2022, and there were steep declines in most of the others…

Sensor Tower measured downloads and revenue, and both were down in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2021.

Most mobile game genres in the US saw player spending and downloads decline in the first half of 2022, with the market falling 9.6% year-on-year to $11.4 billion, reveal data from Sensor Tower Game Intelligence.

Mobile game downloads

The Action genre was the only one to see a year-over-year increase in downloads on iOS and Android.

The Action genre saw the fastest growth in downloads during the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2021, increasing 5.4% year-on-year to reach 54.7 million.

The most downloaded action subgenre was Action Sandbox, which saw downloads climb 2.3% year-over-year to 15.7 million installs.

The #1 action game for downloads was miHoYo’s Genshin Impact, which racked up 2.3 million downloads, followed by Rocket Go Global’s Galaxy Attack: Space Shooter at #2 and Galaxy Attack: Alien Shooter, also d’Abigames, at No. 3.

Sport held up, with stable downloads, while Simulation, Puzzle and Shooter saw modest declines. Things gradually get worse from there.


The picture is even bleaker when it comes to income.

Arcade was the fastest growing genre, with gamers spending up 14.8% year-over-year to around $176 million. The top Arcade subgenre for gamer spending was Idler, which generated nearly $88 million, up 35.3% year-over-year. The #1 arcade game by player spend was Gigantic’s Clawee, which generated $16.5 million in the US in the first half of the year. It was followed by AppQuantum Publishing’s Gold & Goblins at #2 and Century Games’ Idle Mafia at #3.

The second fastest growing genre by revenue in 1H22 was Tabletop, which grew about 1% year-over-year to nearly $388.8 million. All other mobile game genres saw declines in overall player spending in the first half of the year, with Racing recording the largest drop at 28.8%.

Puzzle was the largest category by spend in 1H22, raking in $2.3 billion, down 8.8% year-over-year. It was followed by Casino at No. 2, which generated $2.2 billion, and Strategy, which racked up $2 billion.

Some of the reasons for the decline are obvious. With the country reopening after COVID shutdowns, there are many more entertainment options available than there were when people were stuck at home and many places were closed.

Inflation, too, has hit hard as consumers see their purchasing power fall off a cliff. The surrounding economic uncertainties also mean that people are controlling their spending even though they are currently doing well.

But Sensor Tower says the transparency of Apple’s app tracking is also hurting its revenue. If iPhone owners don’t consent to tracking, free apps can no longer sell personalized ad spots, which means ad networks pay them far less to serve generic ads.

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