6 Key takeaways from the Mobile Game Monetization Report
To help you grow your game, we wanted to analyze our internal data to find trends and insights that can guide you when including ads in your game design. Read on to discover the biggest takeaways from 2019 and predictions for what mobile monetization looks like in 2020.
“Unity powers 50% of mobile games on the planet. It uses that distribution to serve over 10 billion ads a month, and they’re working.”
– Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat
Millions of people every day play mobile games that were built with Unity. Unity serves some of the ads that people see in those games. Because of the scale of our network, we serve billions of ads each month.
In fact, we serve more than 23 billion ads per month. That number is staggering. With all of that data available, we wanted to identify some trends and patterns to help you monetize your games.
We wondered about things like:
- How are developers using ads and in-app purchases?
- In what countries are ads the most and least effective?
- Are players, on average, watching more or fewer ads?
- What category of game performs the best in terms of monetization?
- What type of ad format is the most commonly used?
So our data team, along with our new friends at deltaDNA, crunched the numbers and found some very interesting statistics that we’d like to share with you.
But first, an important note about the data.
We take developer data privacy very seriously and have omitted information from this report that would individually identify any single game or developer. The analysis in this report is aggregated from our internal data into the publicly determined categories on Google Play and the Apple App Store from January to December 2019.
With that, here are six key takeaways from the 2020 Mobile Game Monetization Report.
1. Mobile gaming ad revenue grew 30.1% last year.
Mobile gaming is skyrocketing in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. Across the board, mobile ad revenue grew significantly in all of the categories.
For game categories that have only recently begun showing ads, the growth is enormous and indicates great potential to increase earnings further. Categories that have been using ad monetization for many years (such as Casino, Word, and Casual) didn’t grow quite as much, but every single category showed growth, which is encouraging.
2. Day 1, Day 7, and Day 30 have higher retention when there are ads.
One of the most common myths among game developers is that ads compromise the gameplay experience, causing player engagement to go down. Our data showed that there is no statistically significant difference for retention in games that have ads versus games that don’t. In fact, for games with ads, D1 is higher by 1.65%, D7 is higher by 1.01%, and D30 is higher by 0.54%.
The main lesson here is that if you choose to implement ads, do so thoughtfully. As long as they’re part of your game’s design and blend into the core game loop, you can expect players to engage more.
3. Rewarded video ads in games increased by 10.2% compared to last year.
Rewarded video ads are commonly considered the best kind of advertisement when it comes to the player experience. Seeing this number increase means that developers care about the players’ experience. With rewarded video, developers can maximize ad revenue while players feel like they’re being rewarded for their time. In fact, proper implementation of rewarded video can even raise in-app purchase (IAP) metrics, since players get a taste of a game’s premium offerings and are more likely to convert.
We expect this number to keep growing through 2020 and beyond.
4. From 2018 to 2019, there was a 9.4% increase in the number of players who see five or more ads per session.
This is a substantial increase, and it is very significant for mobile game developers for two reasons:
- Players are feeling more comfortable with ads in general
- Players are willing to view more ads per session
You’ll need to test what’s right for your game, but this data suggests you can try inserting more ad monetization opportunities into your games, and it may pay off.
5. Puzzle games grew ad revenue by 67.4% from 2018 to 2019.
This is a huge amount of growth. Clearly, certain app store categories are becoming more sophisticated in their monetization strategies. Puzzle, Card, and Word games all also showed an increase in D7 retention with ads.
In the full report, we break down the revenue growth in all categories and show you ad opportunities you can explore when you’re building your next game.
6. On average, games in China derive 20% more revenue from ads than their American counterparts.
This likely means that Chinese developers lean more heavily on ads for revenue. Players in China may be more familiar with seeing ads in their games, which is why developers are more comfortable using them.
In the full report, we have a breakdown per country with many more interesting findings for each region (spoiler: massive opportunity in EMEA).
Get the report
Download the full report to see all of the statistics we uncovered. We share a lot of insight, a case study you can learn from, predictions for 2020, and actionable advice you can use to earn more from your games.