PopCap Games, a division of EA and maker of some of the world’s most popular video games, today announced the results of its third survey of mobile games consumption which found an overall increase in the mobile games market, a broadening audience, new opportunities unlocked through tablets and new developments in play and spending habits.
“Mobile games continue to vie with social games as the hottest sector of the video game industry and that trend shows no sign of waning,” stated Dennis Ryan, VP of Worldwide Publishing at PopCap, which derives more than a third of its overall revenues from sales of mobile mega-hits like Bejeweled® and Plants vs. Zombies™. “Smartphone adoption continues apace and tablet adoption has added considerable fuel to the fire. Even more important, consumers are embracing the shift toward freemium games and other add-on game content purchases, driving the dramatic and rapid shift in the forms of monetization being used by developers and publishers.”
The survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group, found increases in overall usage and frequency of mobile game playing among U.S. and U.K. adults. Projections from the data indicate that there is now an addressable market of more than 125 million people playing mobile games in the U.S. and U.K.
Mobile Games Market Expands
More people are playing mobile games: more than 4 in 10 (44%) of adults surveyed had played at least one mobile game in the past month – an increase of 29% compared to just a year ago. The ratio of new gamers doubled in the last three years: In 2009, 22% were new players and this year new players represented 44%.
Tablet devices are bringing new players: Nearly one in ten (9%) became a new mobile gamer in the past year by playing one or more games on a recently acquired tablet, indicating that the iPad, Kindle and other such devices have brought approximately 11 million new mobile gamers into the fold in the past 12 months.
Almost half (46%) of all video game time is spent on a mobile device: Phones and computers are the most common game devices (33% and 32% respectively), with dedicated consoles trailing behind at 18%. Frequency and play time have increased since last year: The number of people who play daily is up by 29% in the last year, from 35% to 45%. In addition, 22% play more than 3 hours a week, compared to 14% in 2011.
Tablets are opening up the audience, opportunities for the industry
Tablets are the new frontier in mobile games: Smartphone adoption among mobile gamers increased 16% from 61% in 2011 to 71% in 2012. Tablets showcase massive added potential for the industry: 36% of mobile gamers now own a tablet and 74% of the tablet gamers did not play mobile games previously.
Tablet gets a lot of play: 12% of all mobile gamers play only on a tablet; respondents that play games only on the tablet spend 31% of their device time on games, where phone-only players dedicate 24% of their device time to games. People who play on both devices log more game time on a tablet (40%) than a phone (31%).
Dual mobile device owners play more often than single device owners: 57% of dual device owners play daily compared to 41% of single device owners. Dual device players are more likely to be male (56% vs. 44%).
Spending and Gameplay Patterns Shift with the Rise of Tablet and Freemium
Free games and better phones are growing the market: Among the most popular reasons cited for the increase in mobile gameplay are the availability of more free games (70%), acquisition of a new phone with better gaming capabilities (47%) and purchase of a tablet (25%).
Monetization patterns: general spending data shows half (51%) of mobile gamers made mobile game-related purchases in the past year. 62% of these expenditures were for games, while four out of every ten dollars spent was for additional content and/or in-game currency. Players who spend money on mobile games are largely younger than 35 (48%), tend to play multiple times a week (86%) and are likely to own a tablet (45%). Also, mobile gamers who only play on a tablet spent 1.5 times more on games and game content than those who only play mobile games on a phone ($25.47 versus $16.68).
In May 2009 and 2011, ISG conducted similar studies of mobile gamers on behalf of PopCap; where applicable, historical data from those earlier surveys is presented below along with data from the newly completed survey.
This international research was conducted by Information Solutions Group (ISG; www.infosolutionsgroup.com) exclusively for PopCap Games. The results are based on 2,301 online surveys completed by members of the world’s largest online ePanel (Toluna) in the United States and United Kingdom between April 25 and May 1, 2012. To qualify for participation in the survey, individuals had to own and use a mobile phone. Among these mobile phone owners, 1,004 were identified as mobile gamers (those who played a game on their mobile phone in the past month). In addition, 712 of the mobile device owners were also identified as smartphone owners, while 361 were identified as tablet owners. In theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results will differ by no more than 2.3 percentage points from what would have been obtained by seeking out and polling all U.S. and U.K. mobile phone owners age 18 and over. Smaller subgroups reflect larger margins of sampling error. Other sources of error, such as variations in the order of questions or the wording within the questionnaire, may also contribute to different results.