Mike Jeffs

Generation App: Factors Driving Mobile Gaming Growth

Generation App: Factors Driving Mobile Gaming Growth

Having previously posted about social gambling on sites like Facebook, this follow up post aims to give more information (and stats) outlining the growth of mobile gaming and how gaming brands can use social media and free or paid apps to connect with their audience.

Across the EU5 countries (the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and France), smartphone gaming is up 55 per cent from the same time last year. Half of smartphone users, that’s 46.4 million people, now play games on their devices on a regular basis, and the UK is leading the way. Now the biggest smartphone nation in Europe, 16.4 per cent of smartphone users here play a mobile game at least once a month.

The rise of the smartphone and tablet

This has clearly been driven by the increased consumer uptake of mobile devices, ownership of which has leapt up across Europe. Smartphone ownership in the UK has increase by 27 per cent in the past year, with 40 per cent of adults in the UK now sporting a smartphone. Tablet ownership has also jumped from 2 per cent to 11 per cent in the past 12 months.

And this is a global trend, with 41.8 per cent of American adults, and 44 per cent of EU5 adults (an increase of 8 per cent in the past year) now using one of the devices.

Generation APP

The UK is now not only a nation addicted to smartphones, but a nation addicted to apps, with just under half of all adult smartphone users having downloaded one. Smartphone users now think nothing of spending £1.99 on an app that can take some of the boredom out of their daily commute. But multiply that £1.99 by the millions of app users globally, and you can see why the mobile gaming app industry is smiling.

Canalys reports that direct revenue from the sale of apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions across smartphones and tablets reached $7.3 billion in 2011, forecasting a rise to $36.7 billion by 2015.

And cost is a factor too. The average price of a mobile app is falling rapidly across all vendor app stores, with the exception of Android. Distimo finds that in December 2011 the average cost of downloading an app was considerably cheaper than it was in January 2010.

While users are happily taking advantage of the proliferation of free apps and facebook games out there, it’s encouraging news for the mobile gaming market that increasingly people are willing to pay for them. 25 per cent of adult smartphone users in the UK have paid for app, with the highest proportion, 15 per cent, paying for games. And it’s interesting to note that when it comes to this trend, the younger generation is leading the way, with 38 per cent of teens having paid for an app and 32 per cent of teenagers having paid for at least one game.

The role of social media gaming

50 per cent of people in UK now use social networking sites on a regular basis, and increasingly users are getting their gaming fix via social media. 235 million people now play games on Facebook, up from 205 million a year ago and up 8.4 per cent since January.

Many of these games are free, but some allow users to purchase credits for real cash in order to progress through games more quickly. Not only has this provided a valuable revenue stream for game creators like Zynga, but for Facebook too, it’s also influenced player behaviour, getting them used to the idea for paying for games.

Mobile and social gaming relationship

235 million Facebook gamers are just too many to ignore, and as a result, we’re seeing increasing numbers of tie-ins between the social media platform and mobile gaming and brands are using this to their advantage. Through tie-in apps, Facebook players can now find their favourite games for mobile, and play on the move, and vice versa.

Jackpotjoy are one example. Jackpotjoy Slots for Facebook launched last summer, and is now available as a smartphone app. Crucially, whether playing via mobile or via the Facebook platform, user progress is stored, syncing up the mobile and Facebook version of the game. Following Jackpotjoy’s launch of the first ever real-money Facebook game in August, Apple followed suit, launching the first ever real-money gaming app in its app store just a week later. Whether this trend is demand led or market driven, this increased synchronicity of social media and mobile gaming cannot be ignored, and is perhaps a way that other gaming brands can follow suit.

The article is a guest post.

About the author...

Mike's background is in Business and Marketing Management, with experience both client and agency side in demanding industries such as tourism, entertainment, finance, B2B and FMCG. Mike joined the search marketing team at Branded3 in January 2011, and now heads up Branded3's London office as an Account Director.

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© 2014 Mike Jeffs