Mobile players who spend as money on mobile games are spending almost as much as console players right now. Slice Intelligence estimates that the average paying player on mobile spends $86.50 per year. Compare this to a 'traditional gamer' who spends $91.58 per year. This is an interesting perspective on metrics, because we often see smaller average revenue per user quantities, with non-paying users mixed in with the paying users. And while converting people to paid users is a challenge, it shows that paying users are committed to spending money on their favorite games on mobile, and they're spending as much as 'real' gamers.

The game where people are spending the most on average is Game of War [Free], where the average player spends $549.69. That seems like a lot, but that's what, 9 console games in a year? A dollar or two per day? Granted, there are many high-money whales in the game spending tons of money, and I'd love to see median numbers on spenders in this game as well, but is that average really so crazy? People who enjoy a game that is intended to be played regularly over long periods of time are kicking in money and getting likely hundreds of hours of satisfaction out of it.



Also, if you ever needed a reminder of why free-to-play is so lucrative, Slice makes it clear, as Minecraft [$6.99] has a $6.50 average spend, with the next popular game they list being The Sims FreePlay [Free]. The average spender in that game drops $38.55 per year.

Whales still play a huge role, as 1% of people who pay contribute 58% of the revenue from IAP, with 10% contributing for 90% of sales in total. Before you scream that this is the sign of an unhealthy or unsustainable market, consider that 90% of console/PC gaming revenue comes from 28% of players. What I'd be interested to see is if over time, as free-to-play gets a bigger foothold, if the numbers start to shift to be similar to mobile. With paid games still being prominent on console and PC, you have to pay to play, but if the option to play for free becomes more prominent, perhaps the numbers will look a lot more like mobile's does.

And here's what's interesting as far as the population of mobile gamers and console/PC gamers goes: 43% of people only buy mobile games, versus 37.8% traditional gamers. There's a 19.2% crossover, and I do think that crossover will increase over time as more companies take mobile and free-to-play more seriously – and it's not like traditional gamers don't have phones and tablets – but it shows that there is a population of people willing to spend on mobile games – and there's evidence the mobile spenders, including players who never spend, are starting to outnumber the people on traditional gaming platforms.


Of course, there is a curious factor in play as well, that among the entire player population, 0.19% of all users, not just paying ones, represent half of all revenue, according to a Swrve report. Non-whales still provide value, with their IAP and ad views providing the other half of that revenue, not to mention the non-monetary value of helping to populate the game for other players, and possibly providing word of mouth benefits. But that's the risk inherent in giving something away and hoping people pay later: you're hoping that people will pay, and even the most successful games are only converting a small number of players. But that's why there are monetization tactics, soft launches, and various forms of testing to ensure that a game is in the best possible shape to make money for its creators. Of course, if you can't do those things, then it's a real risk, but such are the chaotic whims of the free market and our new age of zero scarcity.


  • FunkDoctaSteve

    this does not mean anything.

    • Matt Curtis

      "LOL" - companies making mobile games

    • Jared Nelson

      Nothing means anything. There is no god. Eat Arby's.

      • FunkDoctaSteve

        lol to be honest, now that i think aboot it, i do spend way more money on apps for my devices than i do in games for my consoles.

    • gmattergames

      Other than the the obvious, whales suck!

  • slamraman

    yay - I'm above average at something.

    • mr_bez

      For your sake, I hope it's not the amount you spend in Game of War per year!

  • madreviewer

    The money spent is from a lot of sucker whales,
    And I wonder why the stats is so low- since mobile gaming is full of freemium cash grabs.
    I happy for the mobile gaming industry.
    Keep up the good work

    • madreviewer

      I met I am happy

  • Modjular

    I know you guys are just trying to fill a slot with an article, but I feel like these averages are just a rehash of "whales spend a lot of money, enough to put mobile on the level of consoles and PC". I'd love to see more on the spending of the average Joe, throughout mobile. I remember reading an article forever ago that was comparing Japanese spending (where phones are a bigger part of culture) and spending in the U.S. It would be interesting to see something like that again.

    • Der-Kleine

      "whales" are not a phenomenon exclusive to mobile though, so saying that "whales spend a lot of money, enough to put mobile on the level of consoles and PC" doesn't really make sense. A lot of revenue from the PC platform is made through "social" and free to play games, and there are plenty of people who invest hundreds if not thousands into a single game there as well.

      • Modjular

        I wasn't focusing on whales, I was focusing on the average Joe and what the trimmed average looks like. And I'm not even talking about comparing it to PC and console spending, I'm saying it would be cool to see the difference between countries where mobile has a stronger or weaker presence. I can only assume the average spender spends more over there, but it would be nice to see an article that elaborates, instead of an article that rehashes what we already know about whales.

      • nini

        Depends where average starts once you start excluding whales and what if the averages show many whales? Gets into data massaging after a while looking for the numbers that'll corroborate your view. If you mean to exclude the top end then of course you'll need to exclude the bottom who don't spend anything once they have the game.

      • Modjular

        You have a good point, I'm sure some markets have a greater share of Wales, and it's not as clear where the average user begins. But I think it's been made clear how small the whale population is in mobile. I'd be more worried about that gray area if we didn't already know it's size.

      • Wizard of Odyssey

        Someone should write up a story about "whales" in other areas of consumer spending. Shoe whales, car whales, clothing whales, Apple Store whales.

        I'm sure I'm a whale in the App Store, not from spending on one FTP game at a time, but in just grabbing stuff that looks interesting.

  • ZeeMonkeyMan

    The funny thing is, these "whales" probably don't even see themselves as real gamers. "Oh I'm not a gamer, I just play my Game of War game on my mobile when I'm bored" is along the lines of what they would say.

  • sobriquet

    I would like for someone to quantify what "real gamer" means. To me, when someone says it with seriousness, it just comes off as pretentious and condescendingly superior. I like games but I've never thought of myself as a "real gamer". What are the qualifiers for being a real gamer? From what I understand it has more to do with what you play games on then anything else and it has something to do with how complicated the games are or how much money they cost and when you pay. All silly reasons to draw a line between yourself and someone else with the same hobby.

    • Dankrio


    • nini

      Gaming has always been a horrifyingly tribalistic and at times entitled field to associate with. To be fair, gamers who think themselves "true" are often just pompous asses. Figure all their hours and money dumped into taking this shit seriously makes them better who spent far less or just didn't do it like they do. Of course there's some real nice people around too but they're often fleeting in a world of machismo and pissing contests to see who's got the biggest, toughest dick. I've played for decades, played a lot of games in that time too but I wouldn't call myself a gamer nor hardcore either because it's a real bro crowd with few social graces. Sure I'm here but I like games and they are just games, not a lifestyle so the need for labels just strikes me as pointless, just some folk looking for a diversion, it's all we're doing.

      • Agkelos

        This. Perfect.

      • Wizard of Odyssey

        Yes. And all the hateful dick-waving from GamerGaters last year, too.

        I think everyone should be in the game-playing group by default, unless they explicitly opt out and say "I hate games."

  • one.sixty.four

    What console gamer only spends $98 a year?! I'm pretty sure I spend that in a month.

    • one.sixty.four

      And I get its an average and it includes everyone from hardcore gamers to people who bought a ps4 but never play it. But really? $98?

      • Matthew Johnston

        I'm going to buy a PS4 and No Man's Sky and never bother with another game for that system.

      • one.sixty.four

        Yeah, I can't wait for no man's sky. I would urge you to check out some other games as well, though. The ps4 is chock-full of amazing games.

    • Dankrio

      Not everyone has the money or time to buy a lot of games. Also, there are friends sharing games etc.

      • Pfloydrokr21

        Right. But that average suggests that people are buying a game and a half once a year. I hardly have time to play but even I buy a few games a year with hardly any extra cash to do it.

      • Marathon5150

        You can easily buy 10 high quality games when they go on sale during the year for $98. I don't remember when's the last time I paid full price for a game.

      • mindseyes

        You just wait a 1-2 months that game unless really really popular drops to $39 or get preowned or use a discounted card for the store they always have them. Like on clash they have the sells where you buy $50 iTunes card on eBay for $35. Or GameStop usually $10 off and go preowned. Always a way to get a deal if your patient.

    • Design by Adrian

      Not every console gamer buys every game that comes out. I only play select few. This year I'm not going to spend more than $200 and that much only because those two games are special edition preorders.

  • orangecan

    I read that and thought that's about right then I realised that I spend on average five pounds a week on iOS games which works out at quite a bit more....

  • Matthew Johnston

    $550 a year is 2200 quarters, which is, on average, about six quarters a day. I bet in 1992, there were plenty of Street Fighter II players beating that average. I had a Samurai Shodown II habit that was at least that bad.

  • Schpank

    What the Pavlovian hell? $550.00 on one piece-of-crap game?!? Gaming history will remember this time as The Age of Rubes.

    • Xexist

      Its not even a fun game. I dont get it.

  • Xexist

    I weep for humanity. Truly.

  • Zeillusion

    So you really think it's okay for someone to sink in over 9 console games worth of money into consumable iaps? Timers, gambling, RNG, gold & materials. Hundreds of hours of play? Try tinkering around for 5 minutes. Building, than talking in guild chat for the rest while you wait.

    It's not like people are dumping money into cosmetics. Or neat in related game mechanic items. People are literally dumping thousands into mechanic systems. Currency, progressions, an edge up ect. Blah

    I'll stick to destiny, division, metal gear, and the witcher ^,^ full fledged beautiful experiences that last hundreds upon hundreds of hours for 60$, lawl

    • Eli Hodapp

      If they're enjoying themselves, who cares?

    • Jakeopp

      You don't expect people on a mobile gaming site to agree with you, do you?

    • Matt Mann

      Yes, its okay. It is their money.

  • gmattergames

    As long as there is such significant disparity indicating that the right set of mechanics will draw in the whales, devs will continue to chase them.

  • Gray Games

    I spend way more on mobile than I do on console. Been buying all consoles since Atari and nes. Now I've actually fully switched to mobile after buying my xbox one. The same games on mobile that are $5 are $20-30 on Xbox and no difference in game or gameplay

  • Design by Adrian

    I just hope that premium mobile games see good income as well. Not talking about Square Enix games, but more Monument Valley, Plague Inc, Mage Gauntlet etc

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      only if Apple makes archive section on the app store so that some premium games wouldn't be forgotten, there's some of premium games which released way back in 2009 and it wasn't updated

  • delirium38

    I don't care even people spend tons of games that I never would play, but if it means less original games for IOS then these numbers are nothing to be happy about.
    And isn't there already a big decline in indie developers that release their games on IOS? Just look up the many best of 2015 lists out there and see how little of titles made way to the platform we all enjoy.

    • AppUnwrapper

      Thank you!

  • Lane Denson

    Huh... of those 25 games, I own one (Hearthstone) and have exactly $0 of IAPs. Apropos of nothing, but I can't remember the last mobile game I
    "bought", largely because of the shift towards this particular pay model.

    *shrug* No real loss; now I feel less compelled to stay on the iPhone upgrade treadmill and can save some cash in the process.

  • mindseyes

    Boom beach must be only over Clash of Clans being it has one builder so people speed gem stuff more. I really doubt that's all on clash. I'm guessing it's more around $300 a user and that's just what $20 here and there per year easy.

  • Wizard of Odyssey

    Average = all of the players spending added up, divided by the number of players. I suppose those numbers could be correct, but it sure would be nice to see the MEDIAN (equal number above and below) in those charts.

    But when Touch Arcade is just parroting press releases from companies like Slice that exist to tell a certain kind of story, they're going to get a certain kind of data.

    This is a lot like the non-story they ran last week, about how mobile is eating a growing share of the total "gaming spend," without telling what the total market value is.

    Does Touch Arcade want an unpaid, amateur statistician to sniff these stories for BS before they get posted? I am at your service. You can still post crap like this, but you would look smarter if you analyzed it for five seconds before doing so.

  • tinkie277

    Man, if that's the average I spend a huge amount on mobile gaming.... Don't tell my wife!!

  • delirium38

    I would be more interested to see how the average Touch Arcade reader is spending his or her money when it comes to IOS gaming.
    Personally I spend 45 euros in 2015 on IOS, which is considerably lower then the years before it. Main reasons are my huge backlog, games breaking and not being patched and that a lot of great games on IOS are being sold for next to nothing, not too mention quite a few that went free for a short time altogether.
    So what did I get for that 45 euros?
    Transistor, Icewind Dale, Her Story, Don't Starve, Hero Emblems, Minecraft PE, Broken Age, Costume Quest, Air Attack 2 and Legend of Grimrock.

    • tinkie277

      I must of spent a good £350 to £400. I have bought loads that I haven't tried!!