Facebook Gaming recently published a new report “Games Marketing Insights for 2021” in which they detail the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year on mobile gaming audiences. Facebook discovered as we did from the very start of ‘shelter-in-place’ orders last spring, that an unprecedented surge in people was spending time at home playing games as a distraction from the pandemic and as a way to stay connected with others. More people were playing, watching, and streaming than ever before, bringing in new gamers as well as re-engaging lapsed players.

Facebook Gaming Recommendations

To understand these new and existing players turning to “gaming” en masse, Facebook commissioned a survey to more than 13,000 respondents across 9 countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Brazil). Facebook then split their respondents into two cohorts:

  • New players: Did not play mobile games before the initial peak of the pandemic, and continued to play at least an hour a week
  • Existing players: People who played mobile games both before the initial peak of the pandemic and continued to play at least an hour a week

Here are the key findings:

Millions of New Mobile Players Entered the Gaming Market

Shelter-in-place orders led to a surge of new players as people sought distraction and entertainment. In specific territories, the growth included:

  • United States: 28 million new gamers, 28% mobile gaming audience growth
  • United Kingdom: 8.6 million new gamers, 50% mobile gaming audience growth
  • South Korea: 9.4 million new gamers, 34% mobile gaming audience growth
  • Germany: 6.5 million new gamers, 25% mobile gaming audience growth
Facebook Gaming Recommendations
Source: “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, JP, KR, UK, US, VN Jul/Oct 2020)

Key Comparisons Between New and Existing Players:

  • While the gender distribution of both cohorts is similar, new players in the US, UK, and Germany are significantly younger than existing players. But in South Korea on the other hand, new players are significantly older than existing players.
  • New players play more hours per week than existing players in all markets. For example, 13 hours versus 11 hours weekly in the US and 14 versus 11 hours weekly in the UK
  • Brand new players are more social and more open to cooperative, multiplayer experiences and chatting with others in-game compared to existing players.
  • New players were significantly more likely to report spending money on mobile games after the initial COVID-19 peak in all markets. For instance, 41% of new players versus 23% of existing players in the US spend monthly.
Facebook Gaming Recommendations
Source: Facebook internal data, January – August 2020

All Players Raised a Hand for Creative Storytelling and Gameplay Ads

When it comes to Facebook gaming ads, Facebook found that both cohorts of existing and new players have similar preferences. Which is that everyone prefers to see the main gameplay and story. Specifically, gamers want to see ads that showcase the game’s art style and characters. As well as, high scores that players can achieve.

With more than 350,000 mobile games available to download, getting your game discovered is no easy feat. Only 25% of players in the UK and Germany reported trying a game they had never heard of, and this figure continues to decline in the US (23%) and South Korea (11%). This all shows that while title familiarity is a key factor for console gaming, it’s just as important for mobile. Mobile game marketers would do well to adopt a creative approach focused on storytelling, taking into consideration that people like to see gameplay in ads. By telling rich stories through immersive experiences and new formats, you can create familiarity, which we know drives discovery.

Recently, we explored this topic of creative best practices and gameplay ads in an article: What Can App Commerce Marketers Learn From Fake Gameplay Ads? We discuss how commerce brands take a storytelling approach. Also, how mobile game marketers can apply this method in what’s known as “fake gameplay ads”. Which captivate players with engaging gameplay mechanics.

As we’ve observed over the past year, and as Facebook Gaming has highlighted in their research, mobile game marketing has entered a ‘Creative Renaissance’ where creative is entirely linked to performance, so creative concepting, testing and development is paramount to success.

Facebook Gaming Creative Development and Testing Best Practices

Consumer Acquisition developed a library of guides. Each detailing the best practices to drive creative concepting and development, auditing, and testing at scale. Check out our papers here:

Please reach out to sales@consumeracquisition.com if we can help with fresh creative or media buying on Facebook, Google & TikTok.


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