Mobile gaming “sky rockets” as more players pay to win

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

A new paper has shown that mobile gaming has “skyrocketed” during the lockdown, with 43% of people making in app purchases.

The report from tech firm, Toluna, comes following a survey of more than 1000 mobile gamers aged between 16 and 45 in the UK.

According to the data, 53% of respondents spent more time playing video games on their smartphone compared to 12 months ago.

More than half (52%) are playing more games on their video consoles and 50% more on their handheld game consoles.

Meanwhile 45% of people are using their tablets more to play mobile games.

Smartphone and console gamers said they now spent 80 minutes a day playing games on mobile devices.

 The research found that the reputation of a mobile game publisher greatly influenced decisions about whether to purchase a game, with 60% of people deciding to buy a mobile game based on the brand and status associated with this brand.

The most popular mobile games to play in the UK are:

Puzzles (49%)

Trivia and word-based games (35%)

Action games (35%)

Simulation and management games (31%)

Strategy games (31%)

On monetisation, 65% of people said their perception of how fair a mobile publisher is on monetisation had a major impact on their purchase decision.

27% said they were unhappy with how transparent gaming costs were, while 48% disliked the use of screen takeover adverts used by gaming firms for monetisation.

20% were not pleased with the value of money mobile games offer.

In spite of this, 64% agreed that monetising mobile games, which are free to download with ads, and without in-app purchases is “acceptable and fair.”

56% agreed that it’s acceptable to use traditional pay to download (without in-app purchases) while a lower number, 41% said that it’s fair to use games that combine in-app purchases with to pay to download as a model.

Nearly half (43%) of those surveyed had made in-app mobile gaming purchases in the last year, and made these purchases, on average, around twice a week.

49% spent money on buying additional currency in games.

41% invested in extra lives or health-related offerings

34% paid to customise their game - for example a character or surrounds.

32% spent money on buying extra equipment, resources or enhancements to make their game strategy stronger

30% of people spent money to buy themselves into the next level of a game.

When asked whether they’d prefer to “pay to win” or “win through skill” for specific game items, over a quarter they they would pay rather than use skill to win.

“Mobile gaming has exploded in the last 12 months as people across the UK have spent more time at home, and more time on mobile technology especially smartphones and video consoles. It’s clear that people are prepared to pay to win when it comes to in-app mobile games, and also feel there’s a place for monetisation by game publishers – but only to a certain extent,” said Jonathan Shingler, Research Director at Harris Interactive.

“We still don’t seem sold on subscription-based mobile gaming models, and downloaded games over streamed games are much preferred as some admit that they would rather pay to win a game than use their skill to win one.”

Toluna is the parent company of Harris Interactive Europe and KuRunData.