Press releases

Mobile gamers spending more than £40 a year on in-app purchases

16 October 2019

  • UK consumers to spend more than £1 billion on mobile gaming in 2019, according to Deloitte research;
  • Male mobile gamers aged 25-34 are the biggest spenders, spending an average of £123.72 on in-app purchases annually;
  • 21 million adults aged 18-75, or 53% of smartphone owners, report that they play games on their device;
  • Older age groups are among the most fervent users of mobile games: 47% of those aged between 45 and 54 are mobile gamers.

Mobile gamers in the UK are spending an average of £3.59 a month on in-app purchases, accumulating to £43.08 a year according to Deloitte’s annual Mobile Consumer Survey. Male mobile gamers aged between 25 and 34 are the biggest spenders, paying out £123.72 on average on in-app purchases annually.

Deloitte’s research, analysing the smartphone usage habits of 4,150 people between the ages of 16 and 75 in the UK, forecasts that the mobile gaming market will surpass £1 billion in 2019.

Among mobile gamers, it’s a select group that are spending on in-app purchases. Three in ten (31%) mobile gamers say they have done so, with only 6% spending more than £10 monthly on in-app purchases. As a result, it’s just one in ten mobile gamers who generate 90% of total mobile gaming spend.

Overall, 53% of smartphone owners, the equivalent to 21 million UK adults aged between 18 and 75, report that they play games on their device. The majority do so around the clock, with 17% playing as soon as they wake up, 22% at bedtime and 25% during their commute.

Paul Lee, global head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte, said: “It’s impossible to sit on a train or bus, or indeed in your living room, and fail to be in the company of people avidly playing games on mobile phones. We’re a nation hooked to our smartphones, and ever since Snake, mobile gaming has been one of the key pastimes for the population.

“As mobile gaming this year breaks the billion-pound mark, new gaming subscription packages and franchises are lining up to launch into the market. This will undoubtedly mean that mobile gaming will reach the next level in 2020, bringing fresh opportunities for advertisers and app developers.”

The gender play gap: men twice as likely to play games while at work or studying
Men and women play games in equal numbers but the time of day and type of game played varies. Almost one in three (29%) women play mobile games just before going to bed, compared to 20% of men. Meanwhile, men are almost twice as likely to play games while at school, university or work (19% versus 11%).

While women who play mobile games are more likely than men to play casual or puzzle games (61% of women versus 43% of men), men are more likely to play strategy games (24% of men versus 9% of women). Overall, 49% of men who play mobile games spend money on in-app purchases, spending an average of £5.30 a month, compared to 37% of women, who spend an average of £1.93 a month.

Lee added: “The vitality of the mobile games market is down to its variety: there is a genre for everyone, regardless of gender, age or culture. This is a key part of mobile games’ commercial success. Use of games consoles is, by contrast, fair narrower, with young men far more likely to be the key players.”

Generation game: older age groups unlock growth in gaming
Older age are groups are among the most fervent players of mobile games. Almost half (47%) of those aged between 45 and 54, and 29% aged between 55 and 75 play games on their phones.

Mobile gamers aged 55-75 who pay for games on their device are the most likely age group to spend money to remove time limitations to continue playing. One in four (26%) have done so in the past, compared to an average of 17% among all gamers.

Older smartphone users are today the least likely to think they over-use their device. Just 13% think of those aged 55 to 75 think they use their phone ‘too much’, compared to 62% of those aged 16-24.

Overall, more than two-thirds (68%) of those who play games on their phone think they use their phone too much, compared to a national average of 37%.

Lee concluded: “Across the generations, mobile gaming continues to grow and older users are significant market opportunity for mobile puzzle, card and board games in particular. As phones never leave our side, games will continue to matter to a wide range of age groups, and the quality of mobile games will continue to evolve for every generation to enjoy.”


Note to editors

About the research
This research is based on the UK cut of Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey, a multi-country study of mobile phone users around the world. The 2019 study comprises approximately 44,150 respondents across 28 countries and six continents.

Data cited in this report are based on a nationally representative sample of 4,150 UK consumers aged 16-75. The sample follows a country specific quota on age, gender, region and socio-economic status. Fieldwork took place during early Summer 2019 and was carried out online by Ipsos MORI, an independent research firm, based on a question set provided by Deloitte.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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