Mobile GamingReports

Mobile gaming will still thrive post-pandemic — IDC

A survey jointly conducted by the intelligence and advisory firm International Data Corp. and advertising platform Loop finds that mobile gaming will still thrive even after the pandemic. Mobile gaming experienced a sharp increase during lockdowns when schools and businesses were interrupted and people are forced to stay at home.

The survey found 63% of respondents reported an increase in gameplay time, especially in countries hard hit by COVID-19, with an estimated 75% of the net rise in mobile gaming activity to remain after the “new normal” is established in the next two years.

“Two of the clearest and most important signals we found in the survey results were that mobile gaming activity tended to increase more in the countries with the highest COVID-19 death rates and that gamers in these same countries expected a larger pullback in gaming once the pandemic has subsided compared to gamers in countries that have had low COVID-19 death rates,” said Lewis Ward, director of Gaming and VR/AR research at IDC. “This latter change, which should propagate globally in the next 12 to 24 months, will likely have important implications for game developers and publishers, as well as for those involved in mobile game advertising.”

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The language-localized survey was conducted in six countries, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with approximately 3,850 smartphone users. The selected countries represent a balance of high COVID-19 impact countries and low COVID-19 impact countries. Data were normalized to account for population and gender splits by country.


In the six countries surveyed, more than two in three smartphone owners reported playing mobile games in recent months. The survey found that 3 in 4 mobile gamers reported playing for entertainment or just to kill time. About 4% of the respondents said it is their way to socialize as they participated in live multiplayer games especially. The survey also found live multiplayer mobile games outperformed in 2020.

First-time mobile players account for 6% of the respondents and are mostly male and belong to the younger market based “than the broader base of pre-pandemic mobile gamers.”

“After the pandemic is largely over (presumably late 2022 in most countries), it appears that 25% of the net increase in mobile gaming activity induced by the pandemic will dissipate and 75% of the net rise will remain indefinitely; this “new normal” will vary substantively by country, however, partly based on the severity of the local pandemic,” the IDC said in the report.

Largely due to pandemic effects, the worldwide base of gamers that played on a smartphone or slate tablet monthly jumped 12% in 2020 compared to 2019, to roughly 2.25 billion last year.