mobile gaming

Mobile Gaming in the UK – Key Trends and Carrier Billing Opportunities

20 July 2021
Carrier Billing

Mobile gaming is a lucrative market. One third of the world’s population, that’s around 2.7 billion people, play video games. 2.5 billion of those gamers play on mobile. While Asia Pacific is set to have the highest growth in mobile gaming, what is the current state of play in the United Kingdom?

Overview of Mobile Gaming in the UK

EE’s study of 1,500 smartphone owners in the UK alone found that:

  • 25% use smartphones as their main gaming device, due to today’s appeal of larger screens and 5G connectivity
  • Mobile gamers levelled up by almost a fifth during lockdown with 1 in 5 using games as entertainment on the phones for the first time – with more women (54%) giving it a go than men (44%)
  • Despite spending more time at home during lockdowns (and less out and about, commuting or travelling), over two-thirds (69%) of those who game on smartphones have played more during this time
  • If data allowance limits weren’t an issue, 76% said they’d stream higher-quality games

Mobile Gaming UK Key Trends

Mobile gaming is a large market and is set to witness continued growth from that seen from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumers spending twice as much time gaming on mobiles, when compared to using a console or laptop. Mobile gaming also has an audience who are actively spending money and socialising.

It’s important to note that it’s not just hardcore gamers driving mobile game growth as a whole. In fact, Limelight Network’s The State of Online Gaming 2020 report shows that less than 20% of gamers are ‘experts’ or ‘aspiring professionals’ and are in fact mostly casual gamers.

Statista found that in a survey of UK adults, “58 percent of respondents aged between 16 and 24 years had ever played games on their mobile phone”, compared to 47% on the previous year. The survey also found that gamers aged 35-44 showed the largest growth (24%).

UK Mobile Gaming Opportunities

Google Play alone hosts 3,311 UK publishers and 10,454 games. The gaming industry (UK and worldwide) must face the challenge of a saturated market by retaining users and finding ways to keep gamers engaged.

Globally, mobile games of all types have been upping their game through integrating social mechanics including PVP (player vs player), “in-game chats, push notifications that alert users of mentions or invites from friends, and guilds (AKA clans or groups)”. Even hyper-casual games are taking things to the next level – with developers adding more depth and meta features to their games.

Understanding habits and consumer preferences – essentially the reasons ‘why’ mobile gamers in the UK game, is crucial to app development decisions within user experience and in-app features. 33% like to exercise their brain with puzzles, while others seek adventure, sports or strategy. 62% of mobile gamers even play to relieve stress, while 55% simply wish to pass time. 51% enjoy the instant sense of accomplishment that mobile games can bring, while others seek escapism and want to “immerse themselves in an alternate world”. It’s important to keep this in mind as well as Other Factors Driving Mobile Gaming Growth such as Gaming Tokenization.

Monetising UK Games

  • 14% of games by UK publishers are paid, compared to 4% of overall games
  • 68% of games by UK publishers include ads – lower than global statistics of 73%
  • 35% of games by UK publishers make use of In-app payments to monetize – above the global average of 21% 
  • 37% of games of UK publishers are available on both Google Play and iTunes, compared to the average publisher (20%)

On mobile, the most successful games are ‘free-to-play’. Today’s mobile gamers are ad savvy. Over time, users have come to terms with the fact that ads are often what keep games entirely free. As players become more engaged “(emotionally and socially) with a title, they are naturally more willing to spend (or engage with brand activations) further down the line.”

Growing Mobile Game Revenue Through Carrier Billing

It’s clear that there are endless opportunities for mobile games in the UK market. Making user experiences relevant and engaging, keeping up with mobile gaming trends and adopting the right monetization strategies are all considerations for game developers.

Carrier billing can drive revenues for mobile games by giving gamers the option to charge subscriptions, one-off payments or in-game purchases conveniently to their mobile phone bill. Contact SLA Digital today to find out more about unlocking simple, seamless and secure mobile payment solutions.


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