• Inside InMobi
  • Media Consumption & Trends
  • Understanding Consumers

Mobile Insights with InMobi: Jobie Tan on Mobile Gaming during COVID-19

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
20 min read
Posted on April 24, 2020

Welcome to our first ever edition of Mobile Insights with InMobi! This is our new Q&A series, where we sit down with leading mobile marketing and in-app advertising experts to get their take on the current state of the world.

For our very first interview, I sat down with Jobie Tan, InMobi’s Director of Business Development, to discuss the current state of mobile gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our 18-minute conversation, we talked about why people are turning to mobile gaming apps in this moment in time, which kinds of titles are especially popular right now and what games need to do to see success today during these unprecedented times. Tune in today to hear the full conversation!

 

InMobi · Mobile Insights with InMobi: Q&A on Mobile Gaming with Jobie Tan

Q&A Transcript

MATT:

Hi everyone. This is Matt Kaplan from InMobi's marketing team. Thanks for tuning in to our first ever edition of Mobile Insights with InMobi.For our very first guest, very excited to have Jobie Tan with us today. Jobie, can you give a quick intro of your role here at InMobi?

JOBIE:

Hey Matt, how’s it going? Thanks for having me.I head business development for global games over here at InMobi, and I work with publishers and developers, working with them to help them monetize their apps.

MATT:

Awesome. Great. So, so Jobie, you know, obviously, we've all been very much impacted by COVID- 19. It's caused everyone to be at home much more often as we're all social distancing.And, as a result of this, how, has COBID-19 and Coronavirus impacted the world of mobile gaming?

JOBIE:

Yeah that’s a great question. Matt, you know, a lot of us have been affected.I'm at home with my two sons, age four and nine, and we're all challenged with, you know, having to do some remote learning in school and working at the same time.But, you know, I seen it asa little bit of a blessing in disguise. You know, we get to spend a lot more time with the family.

And, also gaming has increased in the past a few weeks ever since, you know, we've all been ordered to stay at home. App Annie predicting the industry will surpass $70 billion in revenue this year.Right? And, in 2019, Asia Pacific accounted for 40% of the market, followed by 26% in North America. And we've seen a huge increase in hyper casual games.

Yeah, game publishers, they're waging UA wars, trying to acquire as many users as possible. And, you know, they're all vying for that number one spot in the, you know, top hundred, top 200 of the app store, Google play store, right?Hitting that number one spot, it's massive. That means, you know, millions (of downloads) and, you know, hundreds and thousands of, of daily active users, which make up for, you know, significant amount of audience for them, right?

These are made up of a new, mostly, casual games, hyper casual games, casual arcade and puzzle games.And, you know, we've also seen the staying power of classic games, right? The Fruit Ninjas and Flow Frees that have been around for so long. Words with Friends, Crossy Roads and Wordscapes, Angry Birds, you name it.

MATT:

Interesting. Do you think that, in this time, that people, in a way, a familiar game offers comfort perhaps?

JOBIE:

Yeah, definitely. That's definitely the case, right? You know, it offers comfort. It gives them something to do, right?We've got a lot more time to pass right now.There's no travel time. There's time we're waiting at home, and maybe you want to squeeze in a little bit of alone time also.

MATT:

Yeah, absolutely. So, you mentioned casual and hyper casual games a few times. It's obviously been, even before all this happened, a very hot space in the games market. Why do you think that category continues to do well? And are there any particular types of games within that category that are really seeing an uptake in users right now?

JOBIE:

Yeah, Matt.Gaming in general, has done great in the past few weeks.We've seen the huge rise of hyper casual games within the past year.Just a few weeks ago we had that crazy slap craze.There was probably three slapping gaming apps on the top 10, 20 of the app store. So it's pretty crazy, the genres and types of games that come out.

And we've seen a resurgence of puzzle games and word puzzle games, right? These games, you know, people play on the train. People play while they're waiting for their meals to cook. People play while they're putting their children to sleep. A lot of these games, you know, kill time and give you a little bit of, of comfort, give you a little bit of quiet time. I mean, that's what people use them for.

What I have seen in the past few weeks that has ramped up significantly is games with a social aspect, games where you reach out to friends, to family in the next city, the next town. And in my case, sometimes even in another country, right?

These games are, you know, Words with Friends where you play with people all over the world. You know, this game has been around for years, right? It's not a new game by any sense, but it reached the top four of the gaming app store the other day, right? Which is amazing.

And there's other social theme games that are popping up and reaching the top 100 and 200 of the app store, you know, and games like UNO and Heads Up and Scrabble Go. None of these are new games, but they all have a social aspect. They all bring in a community aspect. People play with each other, where they don't get a chance to do that while you’re quarantined at home with this shelter in place mandate that we've got from our government, right?

We want to reach out to people. We still want to interact with our friends and family, so why not play games with them?

MATT:

Yeah. Yeah. I think we're, because we're all stuck at home, we're craving social interaction in a way that we can't get, so I definitely see the value of these kinds of games.

It's interesting, I take the train every day and I see people playing more solitary games often during their commute, right? And so it's interesting to see that some of these games with the more social component are starting to become popular as well as a result.

JOBIE:

Definitely.

MATT:

And that very much aligns with, InMobi recently did a survey that found that 70% of Americans are playing more mobile games now. Hopefully I cited that number right. Or 70% are using their mobile devices more, and obviously gaming is a huge part of that.

It's definitely interesting to see how this space evolves.Especially interesting that it's a lot of known titles that are doing well. Do you think any new titles are going to be emerging maybe in the next few weeks?

JOBIE:

Ah, that's always there, Matt. Like I mentioned earlier, these new titles and lots of new developers coming up from all over the world are vying for that number one spot.And, you know, sometimes they're paying for that number one spot, right?

They’re acquiring new users left and right. Yeah, people want to acquire new users right now. UA is going on quite heavily? just to get a slice of that pie, you know?Try to get a slice of that audience that's available right now.

MATT:

Yeah, absolutely. And maybe you don't want to mention any specific titles, but are there any types of mobile games that you've been finding yourself playing a lot over these past few weeks?

JOBIE:

Uh, yeah. So, I've been playing this game called, it's actually a solitaire game, Match Solitaire. It's got a, you know, it's on the solitary genre, but it combines it with a match three genre.I'm at home with my kids and my wife, as I mentioned, so it's nice to, you know, take five minutes of alone time and play some of that, so it's real great.

And, you know, Words with Friends, I'm definitely playing with the family. I'm originally from the Philippines, so it's great to play with them that huge title.

And of course there's the Wordscapes game that I play pretty often also.Also goes along with that alone time. So it's a good mix with the old and new, I think.

MATT:

Nice. I now have a few titles I now need to download myself.

JOBIE:

Yeah, definitely. Well, let me know what you like.I’m pretty familiar with these games.

MATT:

Nice. Yeah. I think if any of these social games I may need to challenge you soon Jobie.

JOBIE:

For sure. For sure.

MATT:

So I want to pivot gears a little bit. So you work a lot with the app publishers in the gaming space, with gaming app developers. And I know a topic that you often talk to them about is related to monetization.So right now, we are in a very particular time as a result of COVID-19. So what does that mean as far as monetization for mobile gaming is concerned?

JOBIE:

Well monetization for mobile gaming, it's - that audience is available right now, right? It's huge.So for casual games, we've seen an influx of other games being advertised within these games today. Like I mentioned, user acquisition has been going through the roof because of that available audience. And, you know, everyone's battling for that number one spot. So there is a large amount of inventory right now, and I think the advertisers are definitely catching up.

COVID-19 has had in the first few weeks of it definitely, we've seen a lull in that advertiser base, right? I think the whole world's trying to adjust. But, as we slowly get ramped back up, these advertisers and these companies and these brands, you know, they want to rebound.They want to come back. And, advertising to this large captive audience is definitely something that they want to do.

MATT:

Interesting. So is now in an ideal time for brands to maybe consider advertising to this audience?

JOBIE:

Definitely, right. It's the best time to do that. I mean, the audience is captive. They've got that time. They've got that time online.If they're not going to the stores, they're ordering things online. It's a great time to be monetizing through the app.

You know, there has been a debate, with the publishers and partners I’m working with, with displaying competition in their games. So other gaming ads versus a lot of the brand ads that we show. So, I mean, that's still being debated between all of these partners. Should we show other gaming app install ads, or should we show brand ads?

I mean, a lot of the partners we work with a use both, right, and they just balance the two, to ensure that they're keeping their user base and they're also providing a multitude of other ads that the end user will see.

So, yeah, no, it's a great space right now. There is definitely that inventory. And I think our partners and these publishers are in a good spot because they can pick and choose who they could sell their inventory to.

MATT:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I would imagine for a brand too, it's a tricky environment out there.Obviously people are reading up on Coronavirus and COVID-19. I know I'm checking the news every day, and as an advertiser you always have to be careful about advertising next to that kind of content. But you don't have that in mobile games though.

JOBIE:

100% correct man. 100% correct.

MATT:

So, in terms of the future, obviously we don't know how long the situation is going to last and what its lasting impact is going to be.But nevertheless, despite that, are there any things that mobile games can do to really position themselves for the future, for success?

JOBIE:

Yeah, Matt. I think, you know, with all the partners that we’ve worked with in the past, what I've talked about and what I've recommended is to focus on user retention, right?That user is so valuable, right? And that's a challenge that all publishers are trying to solve. How do you keep your audience? How do you keep them from playing something else? How do you keep them captivated? That's huge.

You see user acquisition and monetization teams start working together as one.There used to be two separate teams, and now they're aiming for the same goal. They're trying to maximize the audience and maximize the inventory that they have because it's costly, right? There are a lot of app install ads out there, and the cost per install for those are going through the roof.It's really crazy.

So you're paying for that user. You want to keep them as long as possible. That's why differentiating the ads shown and minimize - not minimize, but limiting other gaming ads shown with a variety of brand ads sprinkled in there, I think, is definitely key. It's huge and something our partners and publishers definitely have to look out for.

And also, they can't forget about the rest of the world, right?True, the U.S. is a huge, huge market with the highest eCPM rates that you could get, but the rest of the world's out there too, and especially a lot of the mobile first countries.

I can point out Southeast Asia being that territory where there are so many mobile first countries out there, where people only have a mobile phone and consume tons of data and consume tons a time on a mobile phone. They've got a massive user base and that's definitely something that you want to reach out to and take advantage of and, in the end, monetize.So maximizing that inventory is key.

MATT:

Perfect. Yeah. And the whole world is really been impacted by the virus. And so, you know, we here in the United States aren’t the only ones that are stuck at home. It's really had a global impact. So that global scale and scope is important for all of us to keep in mind.

JOBIE:

Definitely.

MATT:

Well, Jobie it's been really fantastic chatting with you. If I’m a gaming publisher and I want to learn more, how can I reach out?

JOBIE:

Well, you could email me at jobie.tan@inmobi.com. I'm on LinkedIn. I'm on Facebook. And you can reach me any which way that you like.

MATT:

Fantastic. Well, Jobie thanks for joining us today.Everyone, thank you for tuning in. We hope you found this conversation useful. If you have any comments, please reach out to InMobi on social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thanks again for tuning in. We'll be in touch soon. Bye everyone.

JOBIE:

Cheers Matt for putting this together. Bye everyone.

 

InMobi · Mobile Insights with InMobi: Q&A on Mobile Gaming with Jobie Tan

About the Author

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices.

Stay Up to Date

Register to our blog updates newsletter to receive the latest content in your inbox.