Mobile Gaming Technology Facebook

UK mobile gaming market grows 50% during pandemic


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 7, 2021 | 4 min read

Locked down Britons are turning to mobile gaming in their droves to banish boredom, according to new research from Facebook’s booming gaming arm.


UK mobile gaming market grows 50% during pandemic

The upbeat assessment shows that the UK mobile gamer market has grown by 50% since the onset of the pandemic, equivalent to 8.6 million new gamers.

A gaming nation

  • Virtual escapism is pushing the buttons of more and more Britons according to the study, which found that the UK mobile gamer addressable audience has grown 50% since the onset of the pandemic – the equivalent of 8.6m new gamers.

  • Riding the crest of this wave, Facebook Gaming hours surpassed 1bn for the first time during the third quarter of 2020 – a stratospheric jump from the 500m hours recorded in the final quarter of 2019.

  • The go-to genre for most is the humble puzzle game, with 33% looking to exercise their grey matter. More action-oriented titles fell way behind, with shooters drawing the attention of 12% and simulations embraced by 9%. Drawing up the rear were sports and strategy games on 8% and 7% respectively.

  • Driving the newfound enthusiasm among late adopters is a need to relieve stress (62%), with 55% simply looking to twiddle their thumbs more productively to pass the time.

  • A further 51% reach for their mobiles to chase the sensation of accomplishment, while a competitively minded 38% sought to beat other challengers. The same proportion wished to immerse themselves in an alternate world.

  • Interestingly, 49% of late adopters preferred team play and 32% enjoyed chatting with other players while completing objectives. Among more hardcore established gamers, the respective proportions were 42% and 24%.

Why advertisers should take note

  • Rick Kelley, the Facebook vice-president of global gaming, said: “Our latest Facebook Gaming Marketing Report showed that the unpredictable nature of 2020 led to a significant increase in gaming audience and player engagement, with over 28 million new gamers joining the community in the US alone and live-stream gaming hitting 1bn hours for the first time.

  • “All indications are that this boost is not a flash in the pan and this latest report offers marketers insight into new gamer preferences, behaviour shifts and advice on how to engage with these growing audiences through awareness and social connection.”

  • An embrace of interactive media naturally opens up new opportunities for brands wishing to engage with this burgeoning audience, many of which may have previously dismissed the sector as being the sole preserve of young boys.

  • Indeed, recent studies indicate not only a 50/50 gender split but also an enthusiastic adoption by older and more affluent demographics.

  • Such shifts have conspired to elevate the gaming industry as a significant new pretender for the entertainment media throne, with gaming giants increasingly encroaching upon the domain of social media and e-commerce platforms.

  • Britain is no exception internationally either, with global mobile game advertising and monetisation set to hit $77.2bn in revenues for 2020 – a 13% increase on the year before.

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