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Mobile Gaming is Recession-Proof

There’s no doubt the economy is shifting and it’s affecting the mobile games market and the app economy as a whole. From studio shutdowns to employee layoffs, the mobile gaming industry is far from immune to rising inflation and economic headwinds. That being said, mobile games have weathered many economic fluctuations and the possible oncoming recession will be no different. Read more to find out why mobile gaming is recession proof.

The relentless growth of gaming

Since its inception in the 1950s, the gaming industry has seen steady growth as one of the most profitable industries in the world. In many ways, the pandemic solidified this growth, contributing to one of the biggest bursts in revenue and market share in gaming history. In 2021, the games market generated a historic $192.7 billion, achieving a record-breaking +7.6% growth year-over-year. And, games revenue is still expecting gains this year. Projected gaming revenues in 2022 will reach $203.1 billion via consumer spending, representing 5.4% growth year-over-year.

The number of global players will also reach new heights this year. By the end of 2022, the number of people playing games around the world will surpass the three-billion mark to reach 3.09 billion players.

Source: Newzoo

What’s more — across gaming categories, including mobile, PC and console — the future is bright. The games market is projected to grow at a steady clip in the years to come, reaching $222.6 billion in 2024, a +5.6% CAGR.

Source: Newzoo

Mobile games drive gaming growth 

It’s become clear over the last couple years that the key driver of revenue in gaming are mobile apps. Last year, mobile gaming drove $103.5 billion in global revenue, up to 60% market share of total global gaming revenue. This represents more than 3x the size of what has historically been the primary driver of consumer spend in gaming: home consoles.


The growth of mobile games is one of the steadiest trends in the app economy and in the pandemic this growth was accelerated. In Q2 2022, mobile gaming saw record-breaking installs with a 33% increase in downloads year over year. In 2022, this growth continued with global installs increasing by 32% year-over-year. Even now, as the economy dips, mobile gaming downloads sit well above pre-pandemic levels at the 14 billion mark.

Source: Sensor Tower

The takeaway?

Mobile gaming has grown year-over-year for more than a decade now, and that growth will continue. In fact, the first half of 2022 outperformed H2 2021 in mobile game downloads by 12%. This points to the versatility and innovation of the mobile gaming sector — to provide people with joyful entertainment regardless of the economic trends at play.

Opportunities in mobile gaming

As advertising budgets tighten, there are many opportunities for gaming apps to more efficiently and strategically acquire new players.

In Adjust’s Mobile App Trends 2022 report, total time spent in app per user over a 24 hour period grew in 2021. Total time spent in mobile game apps also increased across from Day 1 to Day 30 after download.

Day 1 total time in app rose from 50.3 minutes to 53.3 minutes, day 3 from 44.9 to 47.2, day 7 from 43.3 to 45.5, day 14 from 41.7 to 44.2, and day 30 from 41.1 to 43.0.

Source: Adjust

The importance of partnering with a mobile gaming DSP

Machine Learning

As a specialized DSP, LifeStreet has machine learning expertise that is specific to the mobile gaming sector. After years of collecting player data, we’ve built bidding models specific to the gaming sector that operate effectively with non-personalized traffic (e.g. not dependent on the demographic data provided by device IDs). This functionality is key following the rollout of iOS14.5 and Apple’s ATT Framework. It allows our team to adjust bidding and targeting decisions based on historical learnings versus demographic and device ID data. Furthermore, these models are continuously and rigorously tested to ensure we are always using the best configuration to serve the right ad to the right player at the right time.


LifeStreet’s Nero platform gives advertisers complete and comprehensive visibility of their campaigns through a single interface. With Nero, advertisers can build their own programmatic strategies and directly access the full suite of data needed to understand their programmatic media buying. The ability to identify and understand the variables that lead to growth is key to mobile gaming growth success as ad budgets tighten.


LifeStreet’s in-house creative team offers optimization and testing for five key areas of creative performance: graphics, copy, layout, animations and templates. Ads are personalized to match specific player segments. Furthermore, ongoing research of market trends is undertaken to understand ad formats and designs that are at the forefront of the industry.


Mobile gaming has weathered many economic fluctuations and the oncoming recession will be no different. 

  • The gaming industry has seen steady growth as one of the most profitable industries in the world. A key driver of this growth are mobile apps.

  • In 2021, mobile gaming drove $103.5 billion in global revenue, up to 60% market share of total global gaming revenue. This means mobile games drive 3x the revenue of home console games.

  • Mobile games have grown steadily throughout the pandemic and indicators suggest that this growth will continue. In 2021, global installs increased by 32% year-over-year. The first half of 2022 has already outperformed H2 2021 in mobile game downloads by 12%.

  • While players might be getting more expensive to acquire, session lengths and gameplay frequency are increasing. This means identifying high-quality, paying players to acquire from the start is key.

  • Partnering with a specialized DSP that has historical first party data and expertise in the mobile gaming space will become evermore important as the economy shifts.
Looking to grow your mobile game?

As the economy shifts and ad budgets tighten, working with a specialized DSP with historical learnings and first party data on gaming audiences is key to campaign success. Reach out to us for support planning your mobile app’s marketing strategy for maximum success.

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