To kick off the Christmas week, Lexi Sydow, Head of Insights at App Annie, joins us for another episode of our “2021 in Video Games” series.

Lexi Sydow
Head of Insights at App Annie

What developments or trends stood out to you in 2021?

As we head into 2022, the global economy has transformed with hybrid and fully remote working models, at-home fitness, telehealth, financial empowerment and entertainment all driven from the palm of our hands.

AR plays an important role in shopping and socialising. For instance, Snapchat’s AR filters are a cornerstone of their app, and Snapchat was the #6 downloaded Social App of H1 2021 globally. Pokémon GO remains the most popular AR game as of Nov 2021, ranking #10 by global (outside of China) smartphone monthly active users among all games. In the US, Pokémon GO ranked #2 by MAU in November 2021, second only to ROBLOX.

While AR/VR has historically captured a lot of attention, we are seeing more interest in metaverse-related apps and games (as indicated by ROBLOX’s rank as #1 game by global MAU in November 2021). Unlike VR (yet similar to AR), these don’t require any additional hardware, but are creating immersive experiences on the device.

We anticipate that world-building functionalities focused on user-generated content that allow users to interact in real-time through their virtual avatars will only continue to captivate audiences (not to mention share of wallet). We see this as metaverse apps are on the rise, poised to see over $3 billion in consumer spend in 2022.

What should we expect from the mobile space in 2022?

Mobile carriers and device manufacturers play an important role in the app economy in 2022. Google Play is on track to represent over 70% of all downloads in 2021, and 35% of all spend, compared to iOS. Android devices have a much wider price point range, allowing more consumers worldwide to come online — a driving factor of mobile adoption in emerging markets like Brazil, India and Indonesia.

Improvements in infrastructure and the rollout of 5G from mobile carriers can foster better overall connectivity experiences. This is particularly true in terms of latency and lag, which can have meaningful impacts on core gaming on mobile — half of all time spent gaming. Battle Royale games like PUBG are a great example of real-time online multiplayer games that benefit from greater connectivity.

Especially in mobile-first markets, greater connectivity will foster a better internet experience on mobile and wider usage of mobile services. We expect to see this impact take shape in 2022 as smartphone penetration increases and mobile usage habits solidify.

Given surging interest in fintech and financial literacy, mobile shopping, food and grocery delivery and rapid delivery services (like Getir), we can expect to see further development in the AI and location-based space in 2022. Location and AI are both apparent in dating apps which are essentially the de facto matchmaking tool worldwide and represent some of the highest grossing apps on the app stores — an indication of the value consumers derive from these services. In Q3 2021, Tinder was the #3 app by consumer spend after TikTok and YouTube.

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