Mobile games appeal to a broader demographic than do shooters and other genres popular on console or PC gamers. More than 40 percent of mobile gamers are women, according to research firms Newzoo and Statista. That differs from gamers using consoles or personal computers, who are more likely to be males age 12 to 35 years old, according to analysts.
According to the mobile consultancy App Annie, spending on mobile gaming is expected to see strong growth this year and top $100 billion. Popular titles include Candy Crush Saga, Honor of Kings, Pokemon Go and Gardenscapes. Many mobile games are free to download and rely on massive numbers of people spending a little on things like extra lives, virtual outfits, or items that boost in-game abilities. And, paying a dollar or so to upgrade to an ad-free version of a mobile game is seen by some as a bargain.
Mobile players who spend little to nothing are referred to in the industry as “minnows,” while those more willing to pay are “dolphins” of “whales” depending on how deep they reach into their wallets. Mobile game makers, like their console-focused peers, manipulate psychological levers that emotionally reward players and keep them engaged in ways that some say can be addictive.
The World Health Organisation has classified “gaming disorder” a disease characterised by “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities” even if it is detrimental to one’s life. But, in a stressful world, mobile games can be a relaxing escape while standing in queues, waiting for a food orders, or just whiling away time, according to players.