Free gifts, campaign support and adapting AR help mobile game engagement during pandemic

Free gifts, campaign support and adapting AR help mobile game engagement during pandemic

Increasing the number of free gifts, adapting location-based games and supporting campaigns have all increased engagement across mobile games.

This was revealed via GameRefinery's COVID-19 Observations report for May 2020.

Items and currency being given away in-game - such as Raid: Shadow Legends and Choices: Stories You Play - were two key examples. Adding more playable content and offering free energy and extra lives helped added to player engagement too.

Niantic's Pokemon GO was one of the first location-based AR titles to adapt its core gameplay so users can play inside, with positive results shown. This was the same for Jurassic World from Ludia.

One of the final pieces of data shown cited how a number of mobile games have shown their support for campaigns and collaborative projects, such as the World Health Organisation's (WHO) #PlayApartTogether initiative.

"Profoundly affected all"

"COVID-19 has profoundly affected all of our lives, and no industry has gone unaffected
by the vast blow this pandemic has caused around the world," wrote GameRefinery VP of games Joel Julkunen.

"Looking at the mobile games market, however, the outcome hasn’t been as devastating yet, with downloads and average session lengths increasing as people are stuck in their homes looking for ways to pass the time.

"Today mobile games are ever developing services with dynamic live ops rather than static fixed products. So many developers were quick to react to this changing global environment, and various types of COVID-19 events, content, communication, and campaigns have been seen across mobile games – no matter the region or genre."

Mobile game downloads have seen a rise of 75 per cent in Q1 2020 when compared to the Q1 2019 with the coronavirus pandemic seen as a direct result.

More so, the COVID-19 lockdown has prompted in-app purchases to spike by 30 per cent.

Staff Writer

Matthew Forde is the staff writer for and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @Forde999 talking about Smash Bros. and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.


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