Who Plays Mobile Games in the US and Canada?

March 17, 2022

Some 63% of people in the US and Canada played mobile games last year, according to the NPD Group’s 2022 Mobile Gaming Report [preview download page]. While the 228.7 million active mobile gamers represents a 4% decrease from 2020 (238.7 million), it remains 6% higher than those pre-pandemic halcyon days of 2019 (214.1 million).

Although the number of active mobile gamers (defined as “individuals who have used a smartphone, tablet, or both device types to play a mobile game in the past month”) has dipped, those who do play are engaging in this activity to greater degrees. Indeed, the report indicates that last year they spent an average of 10 hours per week playing games on their mobile devices, up from 8 hours per week in 2020. A recent study from Hub Entertainment Research confirms the broader encroachment of video games on screen-based leisure time, particularly among youth: gaming was found to account for a full quarter of screen-based leisure time among 13-24-year-olds, a figure equal to the share of time this age group spends with TV (13%) and movies (12%) combined.

Later Adults the Largest Group of Mobile Gamers; Mid-Adults Spend the Most

The 13-24 age group is the only to not experience a decline in the number of gamers last year, per The NPD Group’s report. This bracket represented 50.6 million mobile gamers in the US and Canada, consistent with 2020, and comprised 22% of mobile gamers. Their average weekly time spent gaming grew markedly, climbing to 11 hours per week, from 8 the year earlier.

Unlike teens and young adults, the number of gamers in the 2-12 age group experienced a larger than average decrease last year, down 12% to 36.6 million. This group represented 16% of mobile gamers, and they spent an average of 9 hours per week playing mobile games last year, up an hour from the year before.

The largest group of mobile gamers was actually the 45+ bracket, called “later adults” in the report. Although their numbers declined from 75.9 million in 2020 to 73.2 million last year, they represented almost one-third (32%) of all mobile gamers. Their relative size appears more a result of their broad age range than an above-average incidence to play mobile games, although it should be noted that prior research from the NPD Group found that older adults are spending more time and money playing video games.

Finally, “mid-adults” (ages 25-44) represented 3 in 10 mobile gamers in the US and Canada last year, with their 68 million total a slight 3% decline from the year earlier. This group also significantly increased its time playing mobile games last year (to 11 hours, up from 8 hours in 2020). They were also the biggest spenders on mobile games, with a 6-month average spend of $33, a hefty increase over 2020’s average of $22.

Other Findings

  • A slim majority (54%) of mobile gaming revenue last year was generated by the top 3 genres: Skill & Chance (21%); Puzzle (18%); and Strategy (15%).
  • 91% of mobile gamers played on a smartphone, while 51% played on a tablet.
  • Some 47% primarily used an iOS device only, while 37% primarily relied only on an Android device.
  • Mobile gaming purchases and in-app purchases, measured as net revenue on the iOS App Store and Google Play, totaled $18.8 billion in 2021, representing a 16% increase over 2020.

About the Data: The consumer data in the report is based on an October 2021 survey of 5,000 active U.S. and Canadian mobile gamers (aged 2+). The mobile gaming revenue data was provided by Sensor Tower.

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