The last decade saw desktops and laptops driving the digital gaming market until gaming consoles took over and went on to become synonymous with digital gaming. However, this is changing as today mobile games are seeing a lot of interest and are inarguably one of the most popular types of content consumed on smartphones globally.
In fact, a recent report by Newzoo estimates that the number of mobile gamers is expected to increase from 1.33 billion in 2013 to 1.82 billion in 2017. The report also estimates that global mobile games market surpassed USD 17 billion in 2013, taking up 23% of the total global gaming market in that year. It is now projected to surpass USD 41 billion by 2017, making up for almost 40% of the total global gaming market.
Much of this growth in mobile gaming is driven by smartphones. In 2013, while mobile gaming revenues from smartphones were an estimated USD 12.8 billion, the 2017 revenue figures are pegged at USD 25.8 billion growing at a 4-year CAGR growth of 19.2%. Tablets on the other hand, contributed to USD 4.8 billion in terms of mobile game revenues in 2013. This figure is estimated to rise to USD 15 billion by 2017, growing at a 4-year CAGR of 33.3%. (Refer to graph: Growth in Mobile Games Market)
If we look at the global mobile gaming revenue, Asia Pacific contributes to 56% of the total revenues and is predicted to reach USD 12.2 billion this year, making it by far the largest mobile games market worldwide. However, it is the Latin American mobile games market that is leading the growth curve with with 60% year-on-year growth from last year. (Refer to map: Mobile Games Monetization World Map)
Mobile gamers prefer smartphones because as opposed to a desktop or a console, smartphone users are not bound by location. The portability and the always connected, on-the-go nature of smartphones means they can enjoy gaming content anywhere and at their own time. Smartphones also offer seamless integration with social networks which makes social engagement with other gamers and gaming communities much easier.
Additionally, the barrier to entry with desktops and consoles in terms of device and content cost is also higher in comparison to smartphones. What makes smartphones so popular with mobile gamers is the fact that today's smartphone devices offer the processing muscle to tackle the most graphic intensive gaming content thrown at them. Add to this, the fact that many smartphone manufacturers are today offering devices with near high-end displays, processors and graphical chips at low-to-mid level costs, especially across emerging markets.
It is clear that mobile will become the preferred platform for gaming, surpassing other content delivery platforms in the days to come, and smartphones will steer this change. Game developers also recognize the opportunity and are increasingly adopting a mobile-first content strategy to stay relevant to their "always mobile" consumer.