If you’re following the mobile apps and gaming markets, a couple of reports published yesterday will make interesting reading. App Annie has put out its annual ‘The State of Mobile’ report, which claims that across Apple’s App Store, Android’s Google Play and third-party Android app stores in China, there were 194bn worldwide downloads in 2018.

App Annie said that was up 35% from 2016, rather than printing the year-on-year change from 2017. We looked that up, and it was growth of 10.9%. App Annie also said that global app-store consumer spend was $101bn in 2018, up 75% on 2016’s total. China accounted for nearly 40% of apps spending last year, while on a category basis, games accounted for 74% of the total. Pandora was the fifth top non-gaming app by consumer spend in 2018, down from fourth in 2017.

Talking of games, the other report that came out yesterday was from SuperData Research. It claims that games and interactive media (note: the latter includes gaming videos and VR) generated $119.6bn in 2018, up 13% year-on-year. That included $61.3bn of mobile-games spending, $35.7bn on PC games and $12.7bn on consoles. Or to put it (slightly dispiritingly) another way: mobile games in 2018 were worth three-and-a-half times the global recorded-music industry’s 2017 figure.

SuperData estimates that digital games were worth $109.8bn in 2018, with free-to-play titles (those using in-app purchases) generating 80% of that. And of those $87.7bn ‘free-to-play’ revenues, 62% were generated in Asia. As the App Annie figures also show, China looms large in that.

This may offer the music industry some positive encouragement in terms of the willingness to pay for digital content there – good news, perhaps, for the ambitions of Tencent Music and NetEase (among others) to get more people paying for a music subscription? Although a less-optimistic way to look at it is that digital games are competing with music-streaming subscriptions.

SuperData also offered up some figures for the most-lucrative free-to-play games, with its 2018 chart topped by $2.4bn of earnings for Fortnite, ahead of Dungeon Fighter Online ($1.5bn), League of Legends ($1.4bn) and Pokémon Go, Crossfire and Honour of Kings (all $1.3bn). Understanding how these games work; how they earn their money; and how they are marketed to consumers will be a rewarding challenge for the music industry to tackle in 2019, we think.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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