Games By The Numbers Q3 2016: Overview of the Mobile Games Landscape
- Android and iOS players have nearly the same average number of sessions per day (2.4 vs. 2.38)
- Android players spent 26.6 minutes on average playing Unity games every day; for iOS it was 19.8 minutes
- Phones saw 5x more gameplay sessions than phablets/tablets
- Canada, Puerto Rico, Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom accounted for the top five countries with the longest average session lengths (the US just missed the top 5, coming in at number 6)
Games made with Unity have been installed nearly 5 billion times across 2.4 billion unique mobile devices this past quarter. Past reports have focused on volume of installs by region across devices to help developers understand where their players are. This quarter’s installment will examine how players spend their time, and in turn, illustrate opportunities to target and engage high-value audiences.
Interestingly, Android players spent 34% more time daily on average playing made with Unity games than their iOS-playing counterparts. As a result, developers creating for both platforms may want to prioritize early Android releases to achieve maximum playtime and testing. Session length insights can be an important factor in design decisions related to level progression, ad placement, and more.
Of the top 25 locations (countries, territories, and regions) by total volume of iOS installs, Canada, Puerto Rico, Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom accounted for the top five longest average session lengths. With Android installs, however, Puerto Rico tied the top spot with Canada.
Android session length + frequency
The majority (88%) of Android sessions took place on KitKat 4.4 and above, with the most recent release Marshmallow 6.0 seeing the largest volume of sessions. People playing made with Unity games played an average of 2.4 sessions per day, and the average session duration was 11.18 minutes, meaning the average Android player spent 26.6 minutes on average playing Unity games every day.
iOS session length + frequency
Like Android, iOS players experience 2.38 average play sessions per day. However, the average iOS session duration was nearly 20% shorter than on Android, at 8.12 minutes on average, adding up to an average 19.8 minutes of Unity game playtime on iOS per day.
iOS versions are more consolidated than Android OS, as the two latest versions comprised 91.6% of total sessions on iOS. In just a few weeks, iOS 10 saw significant mass adoption, hosting half of all sessions. However, neither of the two most recent iOS version releases appear in the top 10 ranking by average session length. This insight supports the claim that most gamers tend to be early adopters of technology, but as we see, that doesn’t necessarily correspond with logging the longest playtimes.
On phones vs tablets
Operating systems reveal only one facet of the story. Common sense might expect players to enjoy longer sessions on larger devices like tablets, but the data shows otherwise. Between Android phones and tablets, there is only a 1% difference in session length. In fact, phones with smaller screens see 5x more sessions than phablets/tablets. Likewise on the iOS side, there is minimal impact, with a 4% difference in session lengths between phone and tablet devices. Compared to their Android counterparts, smaller iOS devices only put out 2x the number of sessions as the larger tablet devices.
New iPhone debut
In what has become an annual tradition, Q3 2016 saw the release of the latest iPhone, the iPhone 7 and 7+. Through the first three weeks post launch, Unity saw 7 devices activate at a rate of nearly 3x that of 7+. It’s worth noting this also marks the first iPhone launch since the major carriers’ non-subsidized phone plans went into effect. If we compare the first two weeks of device activations for both 7 models to the same 2015 period for iPhone 6s models, there appeared to be some slower growth, with volume of total iPhone 7 activations was 20% lower than iPhone 6s device activations. However, according to the same data, the iPhone 7+ has seen 10% more activations than the 6S+, potentially indicating growing traction for the larger devices.
Session length by location and platform
Surprisingly, no one country or region stood out for its unique play sessions or session length, regardless of OS — mobile game player habits are largely universal. However, differences appear between platforms; in most countries, Android players average about 2 minutes longer playtime than those on iOS. Of the most significant locations by total volume of installs, Canada, Puerto Rico, Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom accounted for the top five countries with the longest average session lengths (the US just missed the top 5, coming in at number 6). Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam accounted for the shortest average session lengths.