group of young people leaning over a laptop with decorative gaming elements
Mobile Games , User Acquisition

How to Develop a Mobile Game with Impact across Age Groups

When it comes to developing new games, studios must develop smarter, not harder. 

Launching profitable titles within the current saturated gaming market is more challenging than ever. That’s why user acquisition teams should now work more meaningfully with their product teams to build robust and sustainable games that deliver promising KPIs over the lifetime of the game.

How is this possible? They can design games that captivate diverse age groups. This will enhance not only market reach but also long-term engagement with the game – and its monetizability. Our team at adjoe took data from our latest Mobile Games Index to analyze the most promising games for high engagement across multiple age groups.

Why Look at Engagement?

Many game developers already track the engagement KPIs most relevant for their app’s user flow – whether in-app events, in-app purchases, or session duration. This isn’t only because engagement indicates high-quality game experiences that retain users for longer. 

Engagement also indicates a game’s monetization potential – whether through in-app purchases or ads (particularly, rewarded ads). 

If users are engaged, they’re more willing to spend money on premium features within the game or consume in-game ads. Especially, when they’re fairly rewarded for consuming these ads.

And if a game attracts users from diverse age groups, it has the potential to generate a strong and diversified revenue stream.

Our team has pinpointed three gaming verticals that present a strong business case for product teams developing new games and the UA teams marketing them.

You Can Bet on Board Games

What can we learn from board games?

Our index of the best-ranked mobile games worldwide tells us:

  • Daily time spent in board game titles hovers consistently between 24 and 25 mins across all age groups. 
  • These daily engagement times are around 16 percent above the average daily app usage of around 21 minutes across ten mobile game genres.
  • Board games are loved across all regions – especially, among players between 20 to 50 years of age.
bar chart showing average app usage in minutes for different age groups

Consider games like MONOPOLY GO!, which has generated two billion US dollars of revenue and, according to Scopely Co-CEO Javier Ferreira, “exceptional” community engagement across 120 countries. In our Mobile Games Index, it’s one of the top-ten engaged-with board games of last year. 

Not every board game has the same cultural relevance everywhere, and not all titles will have the same scale in each region. This is why it is now crucial for UA and product teams to work together to localize their board game for maximum engagement and revenue impact at the country level, as the MONOPOLY GO! team demonstrated.

Scopely modernized a cultural classic game that leverages nostalgia to captivate older generations while integrating leaderboards, minigames, and deep social gameplay to appeal to younger generations. Playtika’s Board Kings: Board Dice Games likewise focuses on minigames and attention to creative detail; it allows users to build empires while honing in on nostalgia.

young woman looking down at phone and holding a coffee with description of why board games appeal to multiple age groups

Such mechanics are just the beginning of what gaming studios could integrate to ensure their games appeal to diverse age groups. Once developers have all age groups drawn to their product, they can then focus on scaling further and testing more monetization channels. 

Play Your Card Games Right

Let’s move to another evergreen mobile game genre: card games. What do our findings tell us about this vertical?

  • Users under 20 play these games for 19.1 minutes per day on average.
  • Users in their 40s spend on average 25.8 minutes per day in gameplay.

Card games are thus not as consistent as board games in terms of their ability to captivate users across age groups. So, why are we talking about them?

Experts are projecting annual IAP revenue from card games to grow by more than 60 percent by 2028 to hit 15.5 billion US dollars. Ad revenue will grow by just under 30 percent between now and then. Developing new games within this genre that better captivate gamers under 30 – who will as a result either consume more ads or invest more money in the game – will have a profound revenue impact.

bar chart showing revenue for card games by 2028 by revenue stream

People are already familiar with the big card games, such as Solitaire, and this seems to matter. Seven of the world’s top-ten card games for engagement in our index are based on Solitaire. 

The game already enjoys broad market reach and mass appeal, but the best card game developers, such as MobilityWare and Mattel163, continue to retain and captivate their players with more deeper-funnel events. These include opportunities to earn collectibles and in-app currency, climb leaderboards, and unlock limited-edition themes or events. Many gaming studios also leverage creative property, as MobilityWare does with its title MONOPOLY Solitaire: Card Games.

The trick to be part of this genre’s promising revenue growth is not only to capitalize on diversified monetization solutions such as ads and IAPs. Gaming studios must modernize existing games in a way that closes the engagement gap between younger and older audiences. 

bar chart showing the engagement times for card games across age groups

There’s still a Case for Casual Games

Maybe the gold-rush days of casual game user acquisition are behind us. However, there is still plenty of opportunity (and incentive) for UA teams to grow their casual games.

Here’s what our team found while looking at the data:

  • Casual games see their maximum daily engagement rate at 25 minutes among 40-year-olds. This has grown by 60 percent since 2022. 
  • Daily app usage is at 17.9 minutes on average among the under 20s.

Engagement with casual games has grown astronomically – especially, among older age groups. Games like Homescapes and Gardenscapes by Scopely and Candy Crush by King have long been favorites for players aged 35 and older. These games’ dedicated audience is growing older with them, and experts agree that soon enough we will need to look deeper into the data and analyze the engagement of players beyond the age of 50 and 60.

While purchasing power lies with older audiences, casual game publishers will do well to draw longer sessions from their younger users. UA is about playing the long game. Attracting and retaining these younger users is important as they mature into older, more monetizable gamers. 

It is, after all, in-app purchases that will drive around two-thirds of the 20-billion-dollar casual game revenue in 2028.

pie chart showing the monetization mix of casual games in 2028

In-app advertising (IAA) accounts for one-third of the 20-billion-dollar revenue and enriches the monetization mix of casual games. With the duration of user sessions growing, there are greater opportunities to show players ads and thus generate more revenue from them.

That share of ad revenue may increase even further with hypercasual developers including hybridcasual mechanisms in their game and casual games also squeezing under this new umbrella vertical. And the monetization mix for hybridcasual games is far more reliant on ad revenue.

Inject Your Portfolio with Profitable Titles

In an ideal setup, UA and product teams will work together and focus on a game’s long-term engagement factor early on when developing new games and additionally when refining them or adding new features. For example: 

  • UA managers may share the relevant demographic and age insights needed to suggest engaging in-game mechanisms. They might also share the different attributes of users acquired through different UA channels to customize the user flows.
  • Product managers on the other side will be able to apply those insights and build robust games with the right mechanisms that win over both younger and older audiences. 

If this kind of collaboration is successful, new games will be more marketable and also age better than other games, delivering an impressive ROI over the long term. And it’s this mindset oriented toward engagement and traffic incrementality that will set gaming studios on track to develop and launch profitable titles with mass appeal across diverse age groups and audiences. 

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