The majority of app store spend was on one-time purchases, with subscriptions remaining a slim but growing part of where mobile games are making their money.
According to the latest State of App Revenue report from data.ai 2022 was a year of change and movement. Although mobile gaming continues to rake in big bucks, it’s still outweighed by the huge variety of non-gaming apps (social media, shopping etc) accounted for approximately $220 billion (65%) of the $336 billion mobile ad spend market in 2022. However, without major advertising giants such as Meta, TikTok or YouTube, gaming would easily dominate ad spend, offering an idea of just how heavily these companies skew the data and how potent mobile gaming is when it stands opposite the majority of other non-gaming apps.
App store revenue meanwhile hit $167 billion in 2022, with the majority coming from games. iOS accounts for 50%, Google Play 27% and third-party stores in China (where Google Play is not allowed) accounted for the remaining 23%. In a discussion of different monetization models, data.ai notes that the majority of app store spend on mobile games comes in the form of one-time in-app purchases, 98% in-fact. Of the top apps by app store revenue, Candy Crush Saga was the only game in the top three, the two above it being Youtube and TikTok.
In terms of monetization models, data.ai also picks out certain games, including Candy Crush and PUBG, which demonstrate mixed monetization models. These games utilise app-store spending but also advertising to bring in their revenue.
Aside from being a reminder of just how massive social media and video streaming is on the app store, the data.ai report is an encouraging example of just how massive mobile gaming is. It also demonstrates how working with new monetization models is not necessarily something that needs a grand change, but can be done gradually and with the aid of looking at examples beyond other gaming apps.
Data.ai points to word games for example, and how they monetize using both IAPs and ads, with Words with Friends 2 topping the charts for ad revenue in markets like the UK and US. They also note that IAPs which remove ads are becoming increasingly popular, although again mainly on apps such as Youtube, outside the gaming sphere.
It all points to a need to change monetization methods, as it’s noted that Voodoo, one of the most successful app publishers for mobile advertising have had to diversify and focus on in-app purchases (in titles like Mob Control) more due to privacy regulations. It suggests that the way the market is changing means even as publishers and studios grapple more with macroeconomic issues, that ensuring their basic monetization approaches are working properly should still be a prominent concern.