What you need to know

The growing reach of mobile gaming has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as people have had more time at home to dig into their favorite mobile games and try new ones as well. While fewer than half of mobile gamers actually spend money to play, the share that does invests heavily in customizable features and in-game currency to improve their own status. There is room for brands to extend their reach through mobile gaming, whether that’s by partnering with developers or advertising in the games themselves.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the mobile gaming market

  • How free mobile games can still drive in-game spending

  • Why advertising within mobile games can be advantageous for brands

  • How new service offerings will shift mobile gamers’ expectations for gameplay


For the purposes of this Report, a mobile game is defined as a video game available on smartphones and tablets. Video games on handheld or hybrid consoles (ie Nintendo Switch) are covered in the scope of Dedicated Console Gaming – US, February 2020.

COVID-19: Market context

This Report was written between August 24 and September 10. Research was conducted in August 2020 and thus reflects consumer attitudes and behaviors during the re-emergence period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

During re-emergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until a vaccine is available.

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