Subscription Spending on Apple’s App Store Now Outpaces Mobile Games

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As companies increasingly adopt subscription models, user spending on non-game apps in the App Store now outpaces mobile game spending for the first time ever, according to a report from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

As of June, non-game spending — primarily driven by subscriptions — accounted for 50.3 percent of spending on mobile apps and surpassed $1 billion in revenue. That wasn’t the case five years ago, when game spending accounted for two-thirds, or roughly 67 percent, of total app spending in the U.S, per Sensor Tower.

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Though spending on mobile games saw a surge during 2019 and early 2020, in part thanks to the pandemic, the upward trend did not last long, the report found. This year, non-game apps have seen a 129 percent increase in growth compared to 2019, whereas games have seen a 50 percent growth during the same time period.

The majority of non-game app revenue can be attributed to a select group of apps that primarily operate off subscription revenue. As of Q2, there are seven non-gaming apps that receive more than $50 million in consumer spending: YouTube, HBO Max, TikTok, Tinder, Disney+, Hulu and Bumble. In 2019, that milestone was only crossed by four apps: Netflix, YouTube, Tinder and Pandora. In 2016, just one app — Spotify — made the list.

Despite the slowdown in mobile game spending, games still dominate the space when it comes to total downloads. On Apple’s App Store, games received more than 2 billion downloads during the second quarter of this year, while Google’s Play Store saw nearly 12 billion downloads for games. Entertainment apps, which the streamers fall under, received 497 million iOS downloads for the quarter, representing a 5.8 percent decrease compared to the previous year, while the Android versions saw a 15.8 percent decline with 1.3 billion downloads.

But in the near future, the games–entertainment category divide will likely blur as entertainment companies like Netflix expand into games.

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