Mobile devices have ushered in a new era of digital gaming over the last 15 years. Now, with more than 2.2 billion players worldwide and a variety of options to seamlessly integrate relevant ads into gameplay, the mobile gaming industry is ripe for influencer marketing by partnering with mobile gaming influencers.
An overview of mobile gaming
Nokia first introduced the world to mobile gaming with Snake in 1997. Despite its massive popularity, the industry struggled to gain a strong footing over the next decade, especially in the U.S.
Home to most handset developers, Japan led the mobile gaming charge from 1999-2006. Some of the most popular games at the time included virtual pet games that incorporated newly released camera phone technology into gameplay.
It wasn’t until 2007 that mobile gaming really took off with the release of the Apple iPhone. The revolutionary iPhone software provided the mobile gaming industry with a new frontier for innovation and a simple way for new apps to be published via the App Store.
Mobile gaming now
Mobile users downloaded more than 54 billion mobile gaming apps worldwide in 2021. Android now leads the way in mobile gaming with 46.7 billion downloads last year, compared to 8.6 billion downloads on iOS.
Many of today’s most popular games are just as accessible as first-generation mobile games and have equally simple gameplay features. The top five most played games in the U.S. in 2021 were:
- Candy Crush Saga – 11.27 unique visitors
- Pokémon GO – 9.3 million unique visitors
- Solitaire by MobilityWare – 6.6 million unique visitors
- Coin Master – 6.16 million unique visitors
- Words With Friends 2 – 5.99 million unique visitors
These five games alone accounted for roughly 180 billion minutes of total gameplay in 2021.
Due to the ease and addictiveness of these games, the mobile gaming industry now accounts for more than half of the global gaming market. And with a rise in high-fidelity games—games with more advanced graphics and complex gameplay—gamers can even get an experience similar to console and PC gaming.
Mobile gaming tomorrow
Mobile gaming innovation is still growing. In 2020, Google released its cloud gaming service Stadia on mobile, which can stream games to players in 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second. Amazon has also released a similar service called Luna.
How mobile gaming differs from other forms of gaming
One of the major ways that mobile gaming stands out is in the sheer volume of available games compared to other platforms. There have been more than 762,000 games produced on iOS alone, compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, which have less than 2,500 games combined.
But because most popular mobile games are free or cost very little, developers have to find another way to make money. As a result, mobile games are rife with advertisements that raked in more than $5 billion in revenue in the U.S. market in 2021. That number is expected to grow to about $6.5 billion in 2023.
Mobile games include a number of different ad types, such as banner ads, advertisements that appear on load screens, in-game videos, etc.
But the most successful type of ad is reward-based. These rewards take the form of watching an ad to play the game for free, in-app payments to play the game without ads, or payments to gain a certain gameplay advantage. Whatever the case, gamers are more likely to watch an ad if they get something in return.
How mobile gamers differ from other gamers
Mobile games are more affordable, accessible, and easier to play than console and computer games. Because of this, mobile gamers occupy all age groups and social statuses.
The breakdown of mobile game users by age is as follows:
- 18-24 – 22.9%
- 25-35 – 30.6%
- 35-44 – 25.4%
- 45-54 – 14.4%
- 55-64 – 6.8%
Additionally, mobile gamers by income is nearly equal across the board, with 29.3% classified as low-income, 32.9% classified as medium-income, and 37.8% classified as high-income.
How DTC brands can relate to mobile gamers with influencer marketing
More than 70% of Americans play mobile games, which means about 230 million people are only a tap away from an online purchase at any given moment.
The majority of brands use influencers to promote games and gaming accessories. Gaming influencers make the perfect partners because they demonstrate how the game/accessory is played/used, give reviews, and provide commentary on the product or service. Because audiences see these influencers as experts in the gaming industry, their followers are far more likely to trust their recommendations over a traditional brand endorsement.
But because mobile gaming has such wide appeal, there is really no limit to the type of influencers that can be effective with mobile gamers. Regardless of the product or service, the most important thing a brand must do is make sure the influencer they choose aligns with their target audience. Mobile gamers can be found in virtually any niche, so selecting these influencers wisely is critical to the success of an influencer marketing campaign.
Top 20 mobile gaming influencers DTC brands should follow
1. Matt Patrick
Matthew Patrick, known online as MatPat, created one of YouTube’s first live gaming channels, GTLive. He now narrates the popular YouTube web series Game Theory, which dives deep into the lore of video games of all genres.
In 2019, MatPat partnered with Nickelodeon to create Fact or Nicktion. The show light-heartedly examined various Nickelodeon television shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Rugrats to determine whether certain scenes could actually occur in real life.
Tiffy Garcia, aka Cupquake, is a variety gamer who is “attracted to the cute and dark side of things.” She uploads content to her channel almost daily and includes a variety of genres from horror to puzzle games.
Tiffy encourages her viewers to be respectful at all times to nurture a welcoming environment for her fans. She does, however, encourage constructive criticism to ensure the quality of her videos is always top notch.
Lauren is a self-proclaimed “gaming comedian” based in New York City. The YouTube veteran fully embraces her “weird side” and is always ready to make her fans laugh either with her or at her.
Lauren uploads new videos to her channel every Thursday and Sunday and is perhaps best known for videos like her 24-hour “living as my Sims” character challenge and various Minecraft series.
Bradley Colburn, better known online as theRadBrad, has accumulated more than 5.5 billion views on his channel since he started in 2006.
Brad is best known for making videos to help his fans beat some of the toughest video game levels out there. He was dubbed the “king of the YouTube walkthrough” by FMV Magazine and is one of YouTube’s top gaming creators, according to the platform’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki.
Ali gained more than 17 million subscribers on his main YouTube channel playing a variety of console games but started a second channel that features a number of mobile titles.
Aside from his gameplay, Ali is known for his hilarious memes, often-criticized “clickbait” videos, and keeping his fans up to speed with the latest gaming trends.
@meesesgaming Forreal lemme play my game my way #womeningames #pcgaming #gamingcommunity #twitchstreamers #gamingontiktok ♬ Charlie used my sound wtf – 🏰MEME ACCOUNT🏰
Emily, known online as Meeses Gaming, is a feminist gamer who prides herself on nurturing an inclusive environment for all her fans. Aside from streaming a variety of games, Emily loves to converse with her followers she refers to as “meeses pieces” about anything that is on their minds, but she is especially passionate about uplifting women in the gaming industry.
@chedli Les fans de One Punch Man vous êtes où ??? #anime #otaku #weeb ♬ son original – Chedli
Chedli Hassine is a French gamer whose mission is to connect as many people as possible for a more collaborative gaming experience. A self-proclaimed “geek and entrepreneur,” Chedl opened France’s first esports “gym” to help introduce the country to competitive gaming. His TikTok account is mostly just for fun as he goes about his daily life, but he does sprinkle in a dash of gaming content fairly regularly.
@jaysmerk Brb, just going to ReAd My Bo0k☺️… #gamer #gaming #streamer #gamergirl #parentsbelike ♬ Drip – Klondike Blonde
Jaysmerk is a South African gamer with a passion for streaming and content creation. A marketing executive by day, she started making videos in 2019 and encourages fans to follow her journey as she works her way up in the gaming community.
@nintendo.grl the vibes in here are 10/10 #gamer#gamergirl#aesthetic#anime#animetiktok#secretanimesociety#pcgamer#pcsetup#pinksetup#whitesetup#demonslayer#genshin ♬ nhạc nền – Kunimi akira – Kira
Junna, better known online as nintendo.grl, is a West Asian gamer who is all about chill vibes, fun games, and a wholesome time. The 20-year-old medical science student got her start cosplaying and sharing her anime collection in TikTok but has since dived into playing games of every genre on her social channels.
Kmzwisolation is a Japanese creator duo that refers to their team as one “super creator.” The duo made a name for itself recreating Grand Theft Auto gameplay in real life but has since branched off to make a truly unique combination of gaming- and anime-related content.
Lachlan is an Australian gamer known best for his skill as a Fortnite Battle Royale player. He launched a professional esports team in 2020 called PWR, which has since expanded into a gaming, entertainment, and apparel brand. Lachlan is also known for his charitable endeavors, including a $15,000 pledge to Team Trees to take action against deforestation.
Kathleen Beisten, better known as Loserfruit, is a professional gamer and one of the most popular female content creators in the gaming industry. Although she generally keeps her content lighthearted and fun, Loserfruit has been outspoken about the “darker side” of gaming and even appeared on 60 Minutes in 2017 to discuss obsessive fans and the cost that comes with immense internet fame.
Ali Kabbani, also known as Myth, first started creating content when he was 13 and has since accumulated more than 6 million followers on Instagram. Myth told The Netline he hopes his content can serve as both entertainment and inspiration. “If I could, you know, make somebody’s day. Show somebody that things don’t always have to be dark as they may seem. Help people work on themselves. Being a positive light for people, I think that is something that influences me heavily,” he said.
Ewok is a 16-year-old deaf gamer from Los Angeles who got his start after streaming superstar TimTheTatMan invited him to participate in one of his streams. Ewok has since made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and become FaZe Clan’s first trans member.
Olajide Olayinka Williams, better known as KSI, is a British internet personality who got his start creating gaming-commentary videos. He used his internet fame to catapult his music career and has landed on the Top 40 UK Singles Chart 14 times. In 2019, KSI took the second spot in The Sunday Times’ list of the UK’s top 100 influencers.
Launched in 2008, TouchArcade is a mobile video game website that was named as a top 10 gaming blog by CNet. TouchArcade posts news stories about iOS and Android games and has a weekly podcast that covers the top mobile gaming news of the week.
2. Droid Gamers
Droid Gamers bills itself as the No. 1 source for Android gaming. The site hosts news and reviews, as well as information about hardware, tournaments, and everything else related to the Android gaming world.
3. Pocket Gamer
Pocket Gamer boasts a database of more than 6,000 mobile games. It also has news, reviews, an editor’s choice of favorite games, tips and guides, and even a tab filled with coupon codes for various mobile games.
GEEK Digital Board Games is a subsection of Board Game Geek. The blog produces regular coverage of mobile board games, including news, reviews, and in-depth analysis of a number of titles.
GameDaily offers its readers a comprehensive look at the gaming industry, including an impressive collection of mobile gaming news. For those who are more interested in the business side of mobile gaming, GameDaily is the blog to check out.
The mobile gaming industry provides marketers a unique opportunity to captivate their target audience and compel them to take action in ways that aren’t possible through other digital gaming channels. By partnering with the right influencers, brands can get their message in front of a massive audience that is eager to view and interact with their content.