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Mobile gaming saw surge of new players in 2020

NPD: Number of mobile gamers increased 12% last year, in part due to pandemic-related lockdowns

The full extent of mobile gaming growth in 2020 following surges of engagement during COVID-19 lockdowns is finally becoming apparent, with The NPD Group releasing its Deconstructing Mobile & Tablet Gaming report in collaboration with Sensor Tower.

Per the report, of the 303.7 million mobile users across the US and Canada in 2020, 238.7 million are active mobile gamers.

This is up 12% over 2019's 214 million, a considerable growth increase from previous years, as the number of mobile games rose only 5% from 2017 to 2018, and only 2% from 2018 to 2019.

Additionally, the average number of hours per week spent playing games on a smartphone or tablet rose to eight hours in 2020 from six in 2019, with NPD again attributing this increase to the pandemic -- in fact, 35% of the mobile gamers in the US and Canada that the NPD surveyed said that COVID-19 lockdowns had led them to engage with mobile games more frequently.

Mobile gaming rose across all age groups, with the number of gamers ages 45 and older rising 17% year-over-year, the 25 to 44 age group rising 13%, the two to 12 age group rising 9%, and the 13 to 24 age group rising 3%.

"Mobile is the most popular platform in the video game industry, with wide and increasing appeal across all age groups," said NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella.

"Its strength comes not only from its accessibility and availability but also from the incredible diversity in mobile titles available. From evergreen properties such as Candy Crush Saga, Pokémon Go, and Clash of Clans, to newer hits like Call of Duty: Mobile, and Among Us, mobile gaming's growth is certain to continue well into the future."

The NPD Group additionally reported that all mobile gaming genres saw revenue growth in 2020, though the specific revenue numbers have yet to be compiled, with The NPD Group saying they would be available by early next week. Last year, the NPD Group reported mobile gaming revenue of over $11.8 billion.

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Rebekah Valentine: Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.
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