Mobile Users Spend More Time Watching Games Than Playing Them

The mobile gaming sector might be the biggest sector in gaming but it’s not the most engaged. According to a new report by a Flurry market research report, more Americans are spending time on their mobile devices yet spending less time gaming on said devices. If this sends a cold, spine-tingling chill throughout the bodies of executives who have been desperately pushing to pump out tons of mobile cash-in titles, then it means that the uncompromising truth of the mobile market is hitting home.

Games Industry picked up the report from over on Tumblr, where Flurry revealed a startling drop in engagement when it comes to Americans gaming on mobile devices. Check out the stats below.

90% of the time is spent in apps and only 15% of that time is spent gaming.

And oh boy, only 3% of that time is spent on YouTube? That’s brutal. However the report included YouTube into the “entertainment” category, which accounts for 17% of the user’s daily activities on the phone and this amounted to an average of 44 minutes per day.

Even worse than YouTube is the fact that only 2% of the average mobile user’s time is spent on news. I guess even the average mobile user realizes how useless today’s news media has become, extending beyond the hate that the press has endured by the gamers revolting under the GamerGate hashtag.

The most startling trend of the report is the year-over-year drop in gaming consumption. There’s a massive 36% decrease in daily user activity spent on mobile gaming. Check it out in the diagram below.

Basically, entertainment and social media interactivity have skyrocketed from 2014 to 2015 – despite Jimmy Kimmel making fun of millennials watching other people play games on services like Twitch and YouTube, that’s actually a large part of where their entertainment values are invested. In other words, people are spending less time playing games and more time watching other people play games.

As mentioned in the report…

“Millennials are shifting from playing games to watching others play games, creating a new category of entertainment called eSports. This summer, Fortune named eSports, the new Saturday morning cartoons for millennials. In fact, some of the most watched content on Tumblr is Minecraft videos created and curated by the passionate Minecraft community.”

The really crazy part about it? These people are watching other people play games on mobile devices — so when someone like Jimmy Kimmel says “You should go outside and play” these millennials are actually going outside to watch other people play. How’s that for a meta mind-funk?

This issue was also addressed recently by YouTuber AlphaOmegaSin in a video with some fairly colorful NSFW language.

Also, the most startling trend about mobile gaming is the one thing most hardcore gamers fear: casual gamers in the mobile market are spending less time playing games yet spending more money on said games because they’re paying their way through the game. The term in the core community is called “pay-to-win”.

As noted in the report…

“Gamers are buying their way into games versus grinding their way through them. Gamers are spending more money than time to effectively beat games or secure better standings rather than working their way to the top. This explains the decline in time spent and the major rise in in-app purchases, as Apple saw a record $1.7B in AppStore sales in July.”

So there’s a 36% decrease in playing games yet a massive increase in spending on games. Paying not to play.

Nevertheless, the mobile market in America is still on a very fast and steep rise, yet not quite as hot and not quite as steep as China.

Asphalt 8 Airborne

According to a new report from market research firm Niko, China is estimated to hit $5.5 billion in annual revenue for 2015, this is compared to an estimated $4.5 billion by research firm SuperData Research.

However, a caveat should be mentioned: 50% of the Chinese mobile gaming market is dominated by Tencent Corp. That means that there’s stiff competition to find a way into China’s market that isn’t already saturated by a Tencent published title.

Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner and founder of Niko Partners commented about the new report, stating…

“It is important to evaluate what voids there are in Chinese culture, and then match game development to those as well as to the gamer behaviour and characteristics of a good mobile game in a popular genre,”


“With that mobile game developers may find their way to the next big Chinese hit game, because hoping to make it big with an international title lobbed to a Chinese publisher for localisation is not an effective path to success”

Maybe if we had a decent gaming press there would be more outlets talking about more games to reach a broader audience? Instead, we’re stuck with very large media outlets regurgitating a lot of the same news about a lot of the same games, all spliced in with click-hate outrage culture and audience-shaming tactics that makes gamers resent the press that represents their hobby.

It’s a real shame because perhaps with a better media more developers across mobile, PC and console gaming could get more exposure and actually reach the very diverse pool of consumers out there looking and waiting to experience some the artistic, fruitful, vengeful, angry, happy, colorful, bleak and unique titles that many studios come up with. Oh well.


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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