February 8th, 2017

Tapjoy Research: Why Do People Play Mobile Games?

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In part 3 of our ongoing series about “The Changing Face of Mobile Gamers,” we’ll explore the reasons why the nearly 2 billion mobile gamers worldwide play games in the first place. But first, as a quick recap, the report itself provides important research into the mindset, motivations and behaviors of today’s mobile gamers in order help brands know how to connect with this massive and highly engaged consumer audience. You can download the complete report here.

Part 1 of the blog series dove deeper into the question of “Who is playing mobile games?” by breaking down the gender, age and household incomes of worldwide mobile gamers. Part 2 of the series explored “What types of games people play the most”, with an analysis of the most popular game types by age and by gender.

We now ask the question “Why?” Why do people play mobile games? The easy and obvious answer is that games are fun and entertaining, but we wanted to dig a little deeper and explore how games actually make people feel while they’re playing them.

Why does mood matter?

The consumer mindset is an important factor brands must consider when setting their digital advertising strategies. Consumers who are more focused and engaged — and less bored and stressed — are understandably more open to advertising messages than consumers in different states of mind. When you are relaxed, focused, happy, etc., you are more likely to (A) engage with an ad, and (B) really absorb its message.

Consumers feel more engaged and less stressed on games than on social apps

Mobile games definitely put consumers in a different mindset — and apparently a much better mood — than social apps like Facebook and Twitter.

When asked to describe how they feel while playing games on their phones, “relaxed” was by far the most common response, followed by “interested,” “focused,” “engaged” and “happy.” Very few respondents claimed to feel “stressed” or “upset” when playing mobile games, despite the fact that many games, such as action and fighting games, are intentionally designed to put players under stress — granted, in this case, it is the positive kind of stress that gamers seem to crave.

Interestingly, consumers are twice as likely to say they feel relaxed when playing mobile games than they are when using social apps. And they are three times more likely to feel focused playing games than using social apps.

They also feel significantly happier and more engaged on games than social apps. Not only do social apps elicit less positive emotions than gaming apps, but they cause more negative emotions as well. Consumers are more than 2.4 times as likely to feel bored on social apps than gaming apps, and 60 percent more likely to feel stressed. They also report feeling sadder and more upset when using social apps than when playing mobile games.

Women are particularly relaxed, engaged and interested

Women are even more likely than men to say that mobile games make them feel relaxed (61% of women compared to 48% of men), focused (37% of women, 28% of men), engaged (35% of women, 28% of men), interested (40% of women, 31% of men) and “in the zone” (21% of women, 15% of men).

Women also say that they feel more of these positive emotions than men do when using social networking apps, but across the board they still feel significantly more positive emotions while playing games than while using social apps.

Older players are more relaxed, younger players are more excited

Another interesting observation when looking deeper into the data is that older players are more likely to say that games make them feel relaxed, while younger players are more likely to feel excited. However, the levels of interest, engagement and focus remains fairly consistent regardless of age — meaning that players of all ages are still in an advertising-receptive mood while playing mobile games.

Of course, the types of games that players of various ages play is most likely the cause for their differences in mood. As we pointed out in our previous post about what types of games people play, Millennials (those ages 18–34) are about twice as likely as older gamers to play Adventure (26% of Millennials, compared to 11% of gamers 35 and older) and Simulation games (26% to 13%), while older gamers are nearly twice as likely as Millennials to play Casino/Card games (32% of those 35 and older, compared to 19% of Millennials).

Now what? Shift budgets from social to gaming!

The unique state of mind consumers have when playing games on their smartphones or tablets represents an incredible opportunity for brands to connect with consumers from all walks of life. As our data proves, consumers are in a much better mood — and one more receptive to advertising messages — while playing mobile games than when using social networking apps.
If you’re still investing a significant portion of your ad spend on social apps, maybe it’s time you rethought your strategy and looked to mobile games instead.


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