pokemon go, nintendo, augmented reality pokemon, mobile games, gaming industry, pc games
People play "Pokemon Go" by Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam, August 18, 2016.Reuters file

Mobile app data and insights company App Annie and International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier provider of technology market intelligence services, have unveiled a special joint report -- Gaming Spotlight, 2016 Review. The report analyses the mobile video games market in 2016 from several vantage points and puts it in a broader, global gaming industry context.

"2016 was the best year yet for mobile games, with consumers spending nearly 25 percent more than the year prior," said Danielle Levitas, SVP of Research at App Annie.

"The breakout success of Pokémon GO propelled mobile games further ahead of consoles, PC/Mac, and handheld consoles. As augmented and virtual reality technologies continue to emerge, we expect mobile will remain the largest revenue-generating platform for games," Levitas added.

Although games represented about 35 percent of total iOS App Store and Google Play app downloads in 2016, games generated over 80 percent of combined direct App Store and Google Play spending worldwide. As in previous years, spending on iOS games was significantly higher than the Google Play total, and was indeed higher than all Android-based stores put together, last year.

The rise of China and Japan as global mobile gaming powerhouses was evident in 2016. The top grossing iOS game globally last year was Fantasy Westward Journey, published by China's NetEase. The most lucrative Google Play title was Monster Strike, published by Japan's Mixi. Gaming Spotlight, 2016 Review outlines the top five grossing titles across iOS, Google Play and handheld game console platforms for all of 2016.

The top grossing handheld console title was Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, published by Japan's The Pokémon Company.

For mobile games, Pokémon GO came in third in 2016 for total game spending across iOS and Google Play, despite being available for only half the year. The title generated about $950 million in direct spending in 2016.

Given the rising interest in mobile AR games such as Pokémon GO and in mobile VR games like Mojang's Minecraft Gear VR Edition and CCP's Gunjack, the Gaming Spotlight, 2016 Review also delves into this topic in some detail based on a survey of over 4,600 mobile and handheld gamers in United States in 3Q 2016. Two the most notable takeaways from this survey are that:

  • Approximately 24 million Americans played an AR game in September, 2016, and 56 percent of this gamer base was under 25 years of age (primarily reflecting Pokémon GO's popularity among children and young adults)
  • About 4.5 million Americans played a VR title on their smartphone last September, and these gamer were fairly hardcore (46 percent played mobile games for >15 hours a week, 56 percent were male, and the group's average consumer spend on mobile games was 42 percent above the total mobile/handheld gamer average spend in 3Q 2016)

"2016 was the breakout year for mobile AR games," says Lewis Ward, research director of gaming and AR/VR at IDC.