EEDAR, a research group for the game industry, has newly announced the 2019 edition of its reports on mobile games, which shows that mobile market growth is slowing down due to the saturation of mobile devices. According to the report's estimation, there were 80% of adults, teens, and kids having or using smart devices by 2018. The mobile device saturation leads to an only 5% increase in the number of users who have played mobile games in the last month from 2017 to 2018, down 2% year-on-year and 3% compared to the same period two years ago.

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80% of adults, teens, and kids use smart devices as of 2018

The drop in the mobile game player growth in the last month happens at the same time as the decrease in device owner growth. In the 2017-2018 period, the number of mobile device owners increased by only 4%, which is significantly lower than the 12% growth of the year before. EEDAR also carefully points out that this 12% growth is an outlier due to big discounts to the Kindle Fire tablet of Amazon in 2016. However, it is still true that there is an 8% drop in the device owner growth over the last couple of years.

In addition, according to the report, nearly 211 million people in the Canadian and U.S. markets play mobile games, equivalent to 60% of the total population. Meanwhile, roughly 3 out of 4 people in these markets own a mobile device.

Although there was a device owner saturation, 2018 still witnessed many new records of various game producers on the mobile platform. For example, Roblox Corporation’s year-on-year revenue increased by 87% as of 2018, while Zynga also achieved its best quarter due to the revenue from mobile advertising. Thanks to the saturation of the mobile device market, many producers now have greater freedom to shift their attention to new users’ attraction. If we are to take the report of Zynga as an indication, there are lots of potentials that have not been explored yet on that front.

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Roblox posted record revenue

Most mobile producers and developers certainly notice this potential. For instance, Niantic has raised its valuation to US$3.9bil, meanwhile, Blizzard has also planned to participate in the mobile industry. Particularly, the market also attracts a large number of new investors who hope to benefit from the huge mobile device owner number.

The report also shows that there are 63% of mobile game players playing games on different platforms like console or PC. Multi-platform players spend 43% of their playtime on mobile games every week. That mobile games account for almost half of weekly time of those playing on many platforms is evidence for the indispensable importance of this industry.

In addition, most of the mobile users surveyed said they both play games on mobile devices and do other tasks at home. Especially, they often use their smartphones or tablets to play games while they are watching TV. Thanks to the large free or cheap game resources, people easily play any games. The capacity to play games wherever they want is also a factor that leads to the rise in the number of mobile game players. 61.5 million out of nearly 211 million game players on mobile devices are aged 25-44 (the average age is 31.3), which makes this the biggest group of mobile game players in the Canadian and U.S. markets.

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EEDAR Group

The EEDAR’s report shows a few takeaways as follows:

1. The mobile device owner growth has been slowing for the last two years. Meanwhile, many publishers have spotted a significant increase in their mobile revenue.

2. The number of mobile game players and device ownership is still rising despite the slowing growth.

3. Mobile game industry continues to be the most profitable segment and tends to attract more investors and existing producers’ new games.

Mobile device market saturation can make publishers focus more on attracting new players to their games. Blizzard’s move into the mobile segment, Zynga and Niantic’s record reports reaffirmed that a drop in publishers allocating resources to that sector is unlikely to happen.