Commentary

Q2: Non-Game Apps Overtake Game Apps, But Consumer Spend Down For 1st Time

As of this year’s second quarter, more than half of U.S. App Store spending comes from non-game subscription mobile apps, according to mobile tracking firm Sensor Tower. 

The quarter was also notable in that it marked the first time the firm’s tracking has shown a decline in overall U.S. consumer spend on apps. 

Spending on non-games in the U.S. App Store exceeded that for games for the first time in May. By June, 50.3% of spending came from non-games. That’s up from 23.8% in January 2014.   

Five years ago, games accounted for more than two-thirds of total spending in the store. Spending on non-games has grown at more than twice the rate as games, with non-games achieving a compound annual growth rate of 40% since June 2014, compared to less than 20%  for games.

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In 2019 and early 2020, mobile game app spending growth consistently outpaced growth of non-game subs. But by late 2020, non-game growth had caught back up. 

The mobile market “has changed drastically from the early days when consumers were less willing to spend on subscriptions or other in-app purchases outside of gaming,” notes the report. “While overall mobile spend in the U.S. has started to slow, spending outside of games has continued to climb rapidly, greatly outpacing the spending growth in mobile games.”

 

The rise of the subscription model on the App Store and the shift in consumers’ willingness to make purchases on their phones have helped hundreds of apps find success in the U.S. 

Four hundred different apps attracted at least $1 million in consumer spending in Q2 2022, with the vast majority relying on subscriptions as their primary in-app purchases. Further, 61 App Store apps had at least $10 million in U.S. consumer spending — more than the number that had $1 million as of Q2 2016. The number of apps achieving $50 million in a quarter has also risen seven times.

 

Still, after seeing strong growth at least since 2015, overall U.S. spending declined year-over-year for the first time in May 2022, “as the market corrected to the atypically high spend seen in the early months of the pandemic,” explains the report.

 

Spending spiked in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Year-over-year growth jumped from about 20% to 30% in 2019 to 35% to 55% for the next 12 months. 

But following the huge spike in mobile spend in 2020, consumers have started to shift spending back to other activities, like travel and restaurant dining. 

Nevertheless, U.S. mobile app spending in Q2 was still up 71% compared to pre-pandemic Q2 2019.

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