skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration

Straight Talk Media & Entertainment

Ovum view

Ovum predicts that annual mobile games revenue will nearly double over the next five years, reaching $71.5bn in 2021 globally. At the same time, Android will overtake iOS next year as the highest-grossing mobile games ecosystem. However, Apple's App Store will remain the highest-grossing marketplace until 2021.

Mobile becomes top market for videogames

In just a few years, mobile gaming has gone from being a peripheral, looked-down-upon segment of the videogames industry to being the most lucrative part of it, with its revenue overtaking that of both console and PC games.

Ovum's recently published Mobile Games Market Forecast: 2016–21 shows that, despite increased market maturity and a marked slowdown in download numbers over the coming years, mobile games revenue growth will remain strong – as evidenced by the phenomenal success of augmented-reality (AR) title, Pokémon Go, which has broken the record for the most revenue grossed by a mobile game in its first month.

Ovum estimates that average revenue per game download will increase from $0.35 last year to $0.51 in 2021. Global revenue has gone from $8bn in 2012 to a projected $38bn this year.

Apple's App Store has historically contributed the biggest chunk of mobile games revenue (2012–15) and will continue to do so over the next five years (2016–21), but Google Play will gradually take market share away from it.

Chinese muscle

Moreover, if other Android stores are added to the equation – primarily China's many indie stores – the App Store will lose its supremacy in 2017.

According to Ovum's calculations, China is now the top country in terms of both mobile game downloads and revenue. The Asian giant currently accounts for about half of all downloads, and it overtook the US as the top-grossing country last year.

Despite China's dominance, the developed world accounts for – and will continue to account for – the greatest share of mobile games revenue throughout the forecast period. Downloads on the other hand will, thanks to China, continue to be dominated by emerging markets.

Furthermore, emerging markets' share of both downloads and revenue will increase going forward, driven by much steeper growth.

For the purposes of these forecasts, Ovum defines mobile games as downloadable gaming apps built for smartphone/tablet operating systems such as Android and iOS. It does not include feature-phone Java games.

Mobile games' revenue calculations are confined to money generated through end-user payments made via app stores for in-app purchases, paid downloads, and subscriptions (the latter are being introduced for all app categories by both the App Store and Google Play). Advertising revenue is excluded, but Ovum will be sizing and forecasting the in-app advertisement market later this year.


Further reading

Mobile Games Market Forecast: 2016–21, ME0002-000705 (September 2016)

Mobile Games Forecast Report: 2016–21, ME0002-000692 (September 2016)


Guillermo Escofet, Principal Analyst, Digital Media

Recommended Articles

  • Internet of Things

    IoT Viewpoints 2018

    IoT Viewpoints explore the IoT opportunity in 2018 and beyond. Download our latest e-book to get our newest collection of thought leadership articles on the emerging IoT trends, technologies and opportunities.

    Topics IoT

  • Consumer & Entertainment Services

    US pay TV: Is it facing an existential threat?

    By Adam Thomas 28 Mar 2018

    With US pay TV having endured the worst year in its history, thoughts have inevitably turned to the future. The likelihood remains that the immediate future will remain highly uncomfortable for everyone except the scaled multinational digital platforms.

  • Enterprise Services

    5G: Another technology in search of enterprise use cases

    By Evan Kirchheimer 26 Apr 2018

    Service provider interest in justifying 5G investment through its potential to open new revenue streams from the enterprise segment is growing ever greater.


Have any questions? Speak to a Specialist

Europe, Middle East & Africa team - +44 (0) 207 017 7700

Asia-Pacific team - +61 (0)3 960 16700

US team - +1 646 957 8878

Email us at

You can also contact your named/allocated Client Services Executive using their direct dial.
PR enquiries - Call us at +44 788 597 5160 or email us at

Contact marketing -

Already an Ovum client? Login to the Knowledge Center now