The mobile gaming market has grown significantly, not just last year, but over the past 2-3 years, ever since Pokemon Go was launched. Back in 2016, revenues from mobile games surpassed the revenues obtained from PC games. Back then, many experts predicted that budgets would make up 60% of the total market share by the end of 2019.

Last year’s mobile gaming trends were represented by console quality games, augmented reality, and the rise of a new genre known as hyper-casual. Apps that belong to this genre were definitely at the top of app stores rankings in 2018. However, with 2019 well underway, mobile gaming blogs are trying to figure out the trends for the future. Interestingly enough, a lot of these blogs are writing about pretty same themes. Let’s take a look at some of the trends games will define in 2019.

in app mobile advertising growth

The future trends in mobile games: ‘hyper-casual’ is leading

If you are a big fan of the hyper-casual genre, then you will be happy to know that it is here to stay and we can safely add it to the list of game trends of 2019. Hyper-casual games are very lightweight that have very basic mechanics and provide instant gameplay. Some big names in the hyper-casual genre are games such as Terrainium,, Skiddy Car and many others.  Hyper-casual apps require very little time for development and production, and they offer a simple interface without any tutorials required. Apart from this, casual games are also lightweight.

Mobile games industry analysis shows that an increasing number of gaming companies is currently entering the hyper-casual gaming area. Some companies are intended to do it independently, while others via acquiring smaller competitors. The competition for the acquisition of the new users will be fierce. The developers who do not have the money to stay competitive will have to transit to publishing deals or sell their business in order to stay competitive.

AR will be a force according to mobile gaming data

Last year, Google unveiled the ARCore platform for developers that build apps on Android. The ARCore platform uses the phone’s camera to take virtual objects and place them in the real world regardless of surface or surroundings. According to ARtillery Intelligence insider, it is expected to attract 3.6 billion users by 2020. Google is not the only big name to enter the AR arena. The Apple is currently launching its ARKit, the biggest AR platform in the world. The virtual reality is also one of the mobile gaming industry trends since it offers an unprecedented level of user engagement.

There are some big-time AR game releases we expect in 2019 and Harry Potter:Wizards Unite is one of them. In fact, this game is generating so much buzz that it is expected to make more than Hogwarts Mystery, an RPG game, that brought in $90 million in revenue in 2018. Keep in mind that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Augmented reality is now the best way to provide users with a “wow” factor, and many brands are counting on AR to stay relevant on the market. All of the board games, toys, and even coloring books that were popular in the last decade are now finding new life thanks to AR. A phone is everything that we need to enjoy all of these things.

App Store changes current mobile game trends

One of the evident trends in mobile gaming that we see today is that publishers are not too thrilled about the commission fee (30%), that both Google and Apple are charging them with. There was a fascinating turn of events last year with the gaming company, Epic Games, that took their legendary game, Fortnite, off the Google Play Store. The company decided to create their own store and let their users download this game without having to pay any kickbacks to Google.

Even though Fortnite is the only game that can be currently downloaded from this store, we can expect the other publishers to follow the practice since it charges them only with 12% commission. The rise of a new marketplace scheme could be one of the most interesting future trends in app games since it opens up a world of opportunities for the publishers. Also, it makes it easier to attract both game developers and users.

Monetization Mobile Game Trends

Since every developer is looking for the opportunity to make money off their app, they find the new ways to monetize their game apart of charging the fees for downloading. One of the alternative monetization strategies is using mobile ad formats, including interstitials, video ads,  and rewarded ad units.

Rewarded video

The rewarded video is ethe specially promising format. In fact, according to a recent study, the engagement rate for reward videos is very high and usually stays at level 92%. The opt-in rate reaches 79% which is almost impossible to accomplish by any other ad formats. This ad unit is so memorable because the user always watches the ad video till the end in order to get an in-game reward afterward. This way, advertisers who use rewarded ads always receive impeccable completion rates.

Rewarded video ads

Offer Walls

The age-old offer wall is not going anywhere since it is a very useful tool to monetize users who are not willing to spend money on apps. An offer wall is a page that appears in front of users while app browsing experience. It usually offers them various rewards if they spend some money or complete an action. Offer walls are also starting to be used in non-gaming apps like messengers and dating applications. Such non-disruptive opt-in format helps to boost engagement and increase retention while providing both publishers and developers with a good payout.

mobile game trends

All of the trends that were mentioned above show that mobile gaming continues to grow. All kinds of new technologies are being created to engage the users and immerse them into the gameplay.

Keep in mind, that monetization does not have to be solely focused on in-app purchases or advertising. Whenever users download a game, they leave valuable information such as name, age, email address, phone number, and other details which make a treasure trove of information for the digital industry. All of this information can reveal a lot of insights which businesses can turn into millions of dollars. In this quest app, developers could be the biggest winners. They have access to tons of information, and even though the data monetization is still an emerging trend, it could be a very effective monetization tool for publishers and app developers.

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Written by
Iryna Sieliutina, Head of Content Strategy of SmartyAds
January 2019