May 25, 2022 - Technology

Report: Mobile game players don't mind playable ads

A prompt to watch an in-game video ad to receive a reward in FarmVille 3. Screenshot: Zynga

Players in the booming mobile gaming market are warming to in-game video ads but are much more into interactive ads, according to a new report on the sector compiled by

Why it matters: Mobile gaming is setting the standard for how games operate, so what’s accepted or successful in it may shape gaming overall.

  • Spending on mobile games will reach $136 billion worldwide this year, estimates. That’s compared to about $40 billion each on consoles and computer gaming.
  • The U.S. made up about a third of that mobile market in the first quarter of 2022.

State of play: The common model for mobile games is that you can download them for free and then buy in-game items to have a better time.

  • That model is spreading in console and PC games, though in-game ads on those platforms are rare.
  • In-game ads on mobile, however, are common. And they don't just happen between levels of a game, as if they were a TV commercial. Popular free-to-play games like Farmville 3 often include ads that pop up midgame or that players are invited to watch or interact with to unlock rewards in the game.

Details: Of nearly 4,000 global players surveyed by, a majority are fine with in-game ads in some form.

  • A fifth say they’re fine with accepting ads in exchange for game content and services.
  • About a third were a little more reserved, saying it depends on the app.
  • Just 6% said they would broadly rather just pay for the game and not see ads.

Video ads are contentious, but attitudes are moving.

  • They’re still more loathed than liked (The survey option “I can’t stand them” beat “I like them” three to one). But reports the divide narrowed between late 2020 and late 2021.
  • More popular are playable in-game ads, which serve as short demos of other games in the Russian nesting doll that is mobile game advertising. Those get an “I can’t stand them” from about a quarter of mobile gamers, but more than half of players think they’re “OK” or even like them.

The bottom line: Mobile gaming is gaming’s laboratory for economic experiments.

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