Mobile Gaming: The who, why, when and where.

Who plays mobile games, why, when and where? A survey by popcap.com may have the answer.   The survey found large increases in overall usage and frequency of mobile game playing among U.S. and U.K. adults – a third of adults with a mobile phone play mobile games.

The mobile phone is now the primary gaming device of choice, surpassing video game consoles and personal computers in less than two years amongst mobile phone gamers. ‘Smartphone’ owners (the fastest-growing mobile segment) are by far the most avid consumers of mobile phone games. Smartphones’ undoubted ease-of-use makes mobile gaming an attractive proposition. Whether as a means of enlivening dull public transport journeys to work, or to break up the day, mobile gaming is showing great growth.

  • One-third of the study’s respondents had played a game on their own mobile phones within the past month
  • A quarter respondents reported playing games on a weekly basis
  • The biggest gaming group was smartphone users with 83% reporting they had played at least one mobile game in the past week, these are ‘avid mobile gamers’
  • The male-to-female ratio in mobile gaming doesn’t show the pronounced gender gap seen in console and PC gaming. The survey confirms the picture of the average mobile gamer as a woman in early middle age, upsetting the long-standing view of gamers as youthful males

Mobile gamers are also contributing to the bottom line of game manufacturers across the major mobile platforms.

  • Upgrades to paid-for versions of a game following free trial games in the past year have been carried out by nearly 50% of those surveyed
  • A further 25% of mobile gamers, and more than 30% of smartphone gamers, said they had bought additional content for a game within the past year

The possibilities of creating a branded viral experience are numerous. Quality clearly matters to this discerning audience, any old schlock will not do. Yet, if the gaming content offered is rich and compelling, these consumers are happy to purchase.

The costs of development and distribution remain a consideration for publishers. For Android, the developments at Chomp are interesting. Apple’s single sign-on option for users also suggests greater moves towards ease of use (though developers and publishers may beg to differ).

It’s all to play for as the disruptive power of the digital social experience continues to develop.

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