3 Must-Know Changes to Mobile Game Player Motivations in 2023

By Liftoff | April 27, 2023

The mobile gaming industry is never dull—and not just because mobile games are fun to play. Mobile game developers are constantly improving player experiences in the battle for engagement, and trends can come and go at lightning speeds. As games change, so do their audiences. In a fast-paced industry, one proven way to keep track of trends is to see which player motivations are driving players to which games. 

First, let’s start with a quick recap of what player motivations are and how they can deepen your understanding of which games are successful and why—then we’ll take a closer look at which trends in player motivations are on the rise.

What Are Player Motivations?

We define player motivations based on 12 archetypes that describe why players gravitate toward and continue to engage with a game. They describe the appeal different types of games have for their players. We’ve divided the archetypes into Social, Escapism, Mastery, Exploration, Expression, and Management.

For instance, a mid-core game encouraging players to cooperate in guilds to unlock improvements taps into players’ desires to “Work With Others.” 

A hyper-casual game that sees players completing a handful of puzzle stages in the space of a coffee break would likely score high for motivational drivers like “Completing Milestones” and “Thinking & Solving.”

Breaking down how games appeal to players can help individual games effectively position themselves to attract new players. Combined with other robust mobile advertising solutions, tapping into player motivation is a powerful way to boost your new or established mobile game and ensure it stays relevant and profitable for a long time.

3 Trends in Mobile Game Player Motivations for 2023

Curious about how motivations wax and wane? Here are the big trends in player motivations we’ve spotted for the year ahead.

1. Skillful play and competition are on the rise

Titles like Call of Duty: Mobile and Genshin Impact still dominate the mid-core genre. Call of Duty: Mobile is a highly social game and a perfect example of “Competing Against Others.” Genshin Impact — a predominantly solo or cooperative game since it debuted in 2020 — has also strengthened its competitive offering with the debut of Genius Invokation, its impressively intricate and fully featured CCG-styled game mode. Emergent titles in this category will likely aim to tap into the same competitive spirit among players. 

Another trend to watch for mid-core games is Mastery: Improving Skills. This might include exchanging fire with rival soldiers, setting up elemental combo synergies, or using the right card to clinch your game-long strategy. 

2. Massive musical events bring exciting spectacles

Special musical events have been a part of mobile games at least since Marshmello did a set in Fortnite’s Pleasant Park back in 2019, but they’ve only recently become a genre-crossing cultural force. Sky: Children of the Light invited Aurora for a 45-minute concert that wowed more than 1.6 million players. Marvel Snap also kicked off its first collaboration event with an official song and music video from Martin Garrix and JVKE.

These limited-time special events bring players together for something unique that would be difficult to attend in real life. They’re also a great example of a key player motivation that keeps users engaged—Escapism: Excitement & Thrill. Stylish graphics and quality visual effects can have diminishing returns. Organizing special events like these can keep players interested and spark reengagement. 

3. Hyper-casual goes hybrid with resource optimization and more

While hyper-casual games have enjoyed massive growth in recent years, the rise of mid-core games has prompted players to expect more and more. That doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship from hyper-casual experiences—but it does mean more developers are taking the opportunity to tap into a more diverse set of player motivations.

Survivor.io draws inspiration from Vampire Survivors, but it also keeps players invested with a swathe of collectible and upgradeable resources. This kind of mechanic speaks to players who enjoy “Resource Optimization.” It also asks for a type of deep investment from players more associated with mid-core games. By experimenting with hybrid mechanics, Survivor.io and others are proving that hyper-casual players’ are open to deeper forms of engagement. 

This is just a quick look at the popular player motivations in 2023. To grow your gaming portfolio, look to programmatic solutions that maximize growth and safeguard campaign performance.

 Ready to start growing your games for success for years to come? Reach out to Liftoff today and see what Accelerate and GameRefinery can do for you.