Mobile gaming levels up in EMEA: Installs, sessions, and user behavior
Mobile gaming in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) is thriving in 2022. While Europe is already the third largest mobile gaming market by revenue (after APAC and North America), the Middle East and Africa are among the fastest-growing mobile gaming markets. According to a recent Sensor Tower report, mobile game consumer spending in Europe reached $2.8 billion during Q1 2022, up 1% year-over-year. Additionally, mobile gaming revenue is expected to hit $4.4 billion in the Middle East and $1.55 billion in Africa in 2022.
EMEA is one of the most diverse mobile gaming regions, making it essential for gaming app marketers and advertisers to stay on top of the latest trends to create successful marketing campaigns. We’ve analyzed installs, sessions, and session lengths for the gaming vertical in EMEA to provide insight into current user behavior and patterns.
Installs exceed pandemic levels in 2022
Gaming installs in EMEA grew significantly in 2021, posting a remarkable 18% year-over-year growth. Although install growth in the first half of 2022 slowed somewhat, numbers are still up significantly—eclipsing the COVID-19 driven surge of 2020. Compared to the 2020 average, installs were up 13% in H1 2022, and compared to H1 2021, these numbers jumped by an impressive 20%.
It is interesting to note that January has consistently been the best month for gaming apps in EMEA. Gaming installs in January 2021 were 13% higher than the yearly average, and installs in January 2022 were 18% higher than H1 2022 average.
According to Adjust data, educational games saw the highest year-over-year growth in H1 2022, with installs increasing by a massive 169%. Installs for simulation also grew 22% in H1 2022 YoY, followed by board (21%), arcade (16%), and card (14%).
Hyper casual installs still flying
Breaking installs down by sub-vertical for 2020, 2021, and H1 2022 combined, we can see the gaming categories taking most of the share in EMEA. Hyper casual accounted for the highest install volume in EMEA at 34%, followed by action at 11%, puzzle at 10%, and casual and sports at 8%.
Sessions drop as lockdowns wind up in 2022
Gaming sessions in EMEA didn’t soar as high as installs, jumping only 2% from 2020 to 2021. However, in H1 2022, sessions were down 10% compared to the 2021 average. EMEA gamers might be clocking in fewer sessions due to a combination of factors, including the end of COVID-19 restrictions and rising inflation. Similar to installs, January performed the best in terms of sessions—January 2021 was 8% higher than the yearly average, and January 2022 was 9% higher than the H1 2022 average.
While the overall gaming sessions in EMEA declined in H1 2022, sessions for many sub-verticals have in fact witnessed impressive growth. Racing game sessions had an enormous year-over-year increase of 133% in H1 2022, followed by educational games (104%), arcade (31%), sports (11%), and card (5%).
Action game sessions take the cake
Looking at gaming sessions by sub-vertical in EMEA for 2020, 2021, and H1 2022 combined, we note that action takes the largest share of sessions at 21%, followed by puzzle at 14%, sports at 11%, and hyper casual at 10%.
Love for adventure and sports games rockets
Overall, session lengths dropped slightly in H1 2022 compared to 2021, but have increased in many sub-verticals. Adventure, sports, and trivia posted the biggest growth rates in average session lengths from 2021 to H1 2022. Adventure increased from 29.52 minutes per session to 30.07, sports jumped from 20.98 to 21.63, and trivia climbed from 12.86 to 13.19 minutes. EMEA gamers spent the most time on average playing role-playing games, clocking an average of 38.02 minutes in H1 2022.
Winning strategies for mobile game marketers in EMEA
EMEA consumers appear to be spending less time playing mobile games on average; however, sustained install growth indicates that users are continuing to explore, download, and play a variety of games. Here are some of the top ways to help your mobile game attract more high value players, boost user engagement, and increase revenue in 2023:
Languages, cultures, and landscapes across EMEA are diverse, and localization will ensure that your game is relevant and immersive for all players. Google Games’ Mobile Insights Report found that 76% of mobile players in EMEA believe that localization is essential. This is particularly true in the Middle East.
You can start by translating your app store description for your target market. This is crucial because 36% of mobile players in EMEA discover new games through the app store. For the next step, you can localize the in-app messaging. If you have room in your budget, you should also localize your ads—36% of EMEA players find upcoming games through ads in other mobile games.
Splash out on rewarded video ads
A mobile gaming report found that 78% of mobile gamers in EMEA prefer rewarded video ads to those without rewards, and that 71% of players prefer watching ads for in-game incentives to making in-app purchases. 33% of participants in the survey also stated that they remember video ads better than other formats. Additionally, this advertising format creates a positive outcome for publishers, advertisers, and users. Publishers can generate revenue through rewarded video ads, advertisers can reach their target audience, and the users end up with an enhanced gaming experience and increased opportunity to progress in-game.
Leverage app analytics to maximize your game’s performance
The number of mobile games available in the app stores is still rapidly growing, and the gaming space is as competitive as ever. Since there are so many games to choose from, users also have high expectations. To stand out, marketers and developers need to utilize app analytics solutions like Adjust’s Datascape for clear, concise visibility over what’s working and what isn’t across all campaigns and channels. With the ability to quickly and clearly gain insights and identify trends like changes in user behavior, you can make the right marketing decisions to drive your mobile game’s growth.
If you want more tips on expanding your app’s user base, check out our guide to Scaling your app to 1 million users, Part 1, which covers app store optimization (ASO), and user acquisition (UA).