AppsFlyer report reveals gaming apps spent $14.5 billion on user acquisition in 2021, with 10% of budgets shifting from iOS to Android


Games marketers continue to adapt to the new era of privacy, with installs in iOS dropping 6% compared to Android’s 22% growth, while iOS revenue fell by 35% vs. Android’s 10% gain.

SAN FRANCISCO, February 23, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AppsFlyer today released its State of Gaming App Marketing 2022, an in-depth report on top gaming trends that helps marketers drive innovation and carve out a way into the new era of data privacy.

Gaming app marketers are known for their data-driven expertise. However, as consumer privacy continues to evolve and new data usage limitations are introduced on other platforms, game marketers must redouble their efforts to market, measure and optimize their activities.

When Apple rolled out the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, game marketers initially struggled to measure non-organic installs (NOIs) and globally, NOIs were 30% lower between April and September 2021. Meanwhile, adoption of Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) jumped more than 5x, while new and improved measurement capabilities associated with SKAN drove the total number of NOIs closer to levels pre-iOS 14.5+. Additionally, gaming apps adopted SKAN much faster than non-gaming apps, with 67% of non-organic iOS installs coming from SKAN, compared to just 30% in other verticals.

“We’re in the golden age of mobile gaming right now,” said Shani Rosenfelder, mobile content and insights manager, AppsFlyer. “The accelerating rate of mobile adoption coupled with continued investment in original gaming content has made mobile gaming a lucrative business. That being said, since Apple’s implementation of the ATT framework in 2021, it has become more difficult, and since marketing plays a major role in mobile gaming, the impact on downloads and overall revenue has been significant.As we approach 2022, marketers must find new ways to effectively reach high-value users in the new reality of data privacy.

Main global information:

  • 22% increase in total installs of the Gaming app on Android. It’s an impressive feat considering the peaks of early lockdowns, proving that the pandemic played a key role in bringing the game to the masses.

  • $14.5 billion spent by gaming apps on user acquisition (UA) in 2021, with the US controlling half of global budgets. Privacy changes led to a 13% year-over-year decline on iOS, while Android jumped 35%, driving overall UA spending up 18% in 2021. With challenges in measure after ATT and less NOI, iOS spending fell despite a significant increase in CPI from August. . Android’s jump was mainly due to a 22% increase in NOI due to changing budgets, while in 2020 iOS controlled 38% of Gaming UA budgets compared to just 28% in 2021.

  • Limited data after ATT resulted in a -6% drop in total game app installs on iOS. With the shift to aggregate measurement, the number of installs in games has dropped, primarily due to a decline in marketing-driven installs. This is best illustrated by the 6% drop in iOS Gaming apps, which contrasts sharply with Android’s significant 22% growth. The gaming industry’s reliance on user-level data is also demonstrated by the 21% and 25% increase in non-gaming applications for both platforms.

  • Overall revenue from in-app purchases (IAPs) in games has fallen 35% since June, when iOS 14.5 gained traction. The steep decline in IAP revenue illustrates the challenge of game monetization in the age of privacy, with Android numbers remaining constant and even seeing a 10% increase towards the end of 2021.

US Key Facts:

  • Video game installs increased 10% in the fourth quarter, and 30% between September and December. A strong increase in overall installs occurred in Q4 2022 for iOS and Android. The uptick is purely an effect of the holiday season, which cannot be underestimated on the games and their dedicated players.

  • iOS NOIs are showing signs of recovery after a 30% drop following the application of the ATT. Most users deny tracking, and while iOS 14.5 has gained traction, traditional attribution NOIs have dropped 30% between April and September. Since then, we’ve seen a 28% increase after marketers started investing significant resources in alternative and privacy-compliant measures.

  • Hyper Casual apps adopting the hybrid monetization model struggle to generate in-app purchase (IAP) revenue. Hyper Casual games saw a 20% increase in NOIs from January to December, while other gaming subcategories nearly recovered to January levels.

  • Android in-app advertising (IAA) revenue grows 55%, driven by Hyper Casual and Hardcore games, while iOS apps see an increase in the fourth quarter. IAA revenue has jumped on Android this year (98% since January and 55% after ATT) as developers take advantage of ads seamlessly integrated into the gaming experience. In contrast, IAA revenue in iOS has dropped 2% after ATT).

“Data privacy in the United States has become one of the top growing concerns in technology, and this is reflected in the 39% consumer adoption rates for Apple’s ATT framework – far lower than the global average,” said Brian Murphy, Head of Games, AppsFlyer. “Consumer privacy will continue to improve as data usage limitations are introduced on other platforms. Gaming marketers in 2022 need to focus on engagement and measurement.”


AppsFlyer’s State of Gaming App Marketing, 2022 Edition is an anonymous aggregate of proprietary global data derived from 29 billion app installs from 17,000 apps with a minimum of 25,000 installs and 13 billion app installs. non-organic game app installs in 2021.

The State of Gaming App Marketing is available at:

About AppsFlyer

AppsFlyer helps brands make the right choices for their business and their customers with innovative, privacy-friendly measurement, analytics, fraud protection and engagement technologies. Built on the idea that brands can increase customer privacy while delivering exceptional experiences, AppsFlyer empowers thousands of creators and 8,000+ technology partners to create better, more meaningful customer relationships. To learn more, visit

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Chris Tahan
Senior Corporate Communications Manager
[email protected]


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