The largest growth can be found in the conversion to paying players. The number of paying players has grown 35% to 37 million Americans, or 36% of all mobile gamers. This shows that mobile gaming is set for another year of double-digit revenue growth in the US. While mobile gaming preferences between the US and European countries differ, revenue share clearly angles in favor of iOS games over Android in all countries. American players spend in total five times more on iOS games than on Android games.
These insights are based on a fresh round of National Gamers Surveys that involved 17,000 respondents, in combination with monthly iOS and Android game revenue and download data of the top 200 grossing games, a service provided by Newzoo in cooperation with Distimo.
iOS versus Android
Of all American mobile gamers, 19 million play on an iPhone, which is 28% of all smartphone gamers. An additional 18 million plays games on an iPod Touch. In the tablet gaming space, the iPad is dominant with a share of 60%, or 12.7 million Americans. Apple’s position is strongest when it comes to revenues. In March 2012, all iOS devices combined earned 84% of mobile revenues generated by the top 200 grossing games in the three stores combined: iPad, iPhone/iPod App Store and Google PlayStore.
For both Android and iOS devices, the majority of money is not spent on downloading games but within the games: an astonishing 91% for Android and 91% for iOS games. This share is significantly higher in the US than in Germany and France, where figures are between 73% and 87%. The comparison does not include advertising revenues.
“When analyzing Apple’s successful monetization, there is one dominant factor outside of differences in audience demographics and preferences: Apple requires users to connect their credit card information directly to their account, thus creating a seamless purchase experience,” said Newzoo’s CEO Peter Warman. “I can hardly imagine any other company in the world that would be able to get away with this, including Google and Microsoft. Facebook can come a long way, but Amazon clearly has the best chance and is proving this as we speak.”
On Amazon and its Kindle Fire, Peter Warman adds, “ The Kindle Fire, being the runner-up tablet in the US only three months after launch, has single-handedly doubled Android’s share of revenues in the US compared to European countries. It will do the same in the UK soon after launch, but the rest of Europe might be a different story. Now that we have monthly revenue insight into game revenues across both Apple’s App Stores as well as Google PlayStore we will soon be able to report on this. And after that, there is Mac versus PC apps, and then finally…the battle for the TV. Exciting times.”
US versus other countries
Overall trends are similar for the Western countries involved in the study; however, there still are some significant differences when it comes to game preferences. Americans have massively switched to playing games on smartphones and tablets, with only 19% still using a regular phone for playing games. The difference with mobile players in France, for instance, is huge, with 34% still using their regular phone to play. Both the US and the UK have a similar share of mobile gamers who use a smartphone to play games (69% and 75% respectively).
But, in the US, Android takes 16% of the revenues, whereas in the UK this figure is the lowest of all countries involved at only 6%. This big difference can be explained by the huge uptake of Kindle Fires in the US with 17.4 million active users.
Factors fueling growth
Naturally, the uptake of smartphones and tablets are the driving power of the mobile gaming market as a whole, but there are more factors that are accelerating growth. Two of these factors are the potential of “core” games on mobile devices, accompanied by the fact that tablets and smartphones have double-digit growth potential, as the role of both screens in a consumer’s life is different.
Increases in processing power and screen resolution, especially in tablets, over the past several years have led to the availability of more immersive play experiences on mobile. In 2011 already a majority of core console and PC gamers in the US (62%) are also playing games on smartphones or tablets. From a consumer’s perspective, the combination of casual gameplay and immersive experience could specifically appeal to core gamers who, as they grow older, no longer have hours to spend on learning and playing a game. An increasing number of publishers and developers are focusing on this “mid-core” market.