Smartphones Leading the Mobile Phone Gaming Charge

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Gaming on standard mobile phones is dropping like a rock, a 35% fall last year alone. But that’s more than made up for thanks to smartphone users who are gaming far more. The market increased 60% last year to 21.4 million devices being used for games in the US says  comScore. Even with that big gain though the mobile is not the juggernaut of gaming we might hope with a 13% loss last year and overall only 51 million devices (29.5 million being standard phones now). For reference, the Nintendo DS has sold about 125M, Gameboy (color and monochrome combined) 119M, Gameboy Advance 81.5M and the PSP about 60M. Granted the handheld numbers are worldwide but the DS did sell 700K units last month alone.

Mobile Subscribers Who Have Played Games at Least Once During the Month
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2009
Total U.S., Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Mobile Subscribers (000) Who Have Played Games At Least Once During the Month
Feb-09 Feb-10 Percent Change
Total 58,603 50,932 -13%
Non-Smartphone 45,236 29,538 -35%
Smartphone 13,368 21,395 60%

 

Smartphone Users = Gamers

Of course if you’re going to carry around a powerful smartphone, many with dedicated graphics processors, CPUs now with 1GHz and 512MB RAM in them, it’s only logical that you put that power to use entertaining you right? The iPhone covers 5% of the gaming market sales according to Flurry. That sounds like an overstatement to me. They state it’s $500M but the market is closer to $20B in 2009, according to The NPD Group, making that around 2.5%. They [Flurry] failed to include PC gaming in their study it seems.

Over 27% of smartphone users have installed at least one game on their phone and over 1/3 of them have five or more games installed on their devices. 47% of smartphone users play at least one game, once per month and 13% play almost every day.

Mobile Subscribers Who Have Played Games at Least Once During the Month
3 Months Ending February 2010
Total U.S., Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Percent (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Smartphone Non-Smartphone
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100.0 100.0
Mobile Game Play Frequency    
Ever in month 47.1 15.7
Almost every day 13.3 2.4
At least once each week 16.4 5.0
Once to three times throughout the month 17.4 8.2
Method of Game Play
Played downloaded games 27.7 5.8
Played native/preloaded games 25.0 10.9
Used browser to play games 5.1 1.6
Number of Games Installed on Handset
At Least 1 27.3 5.6
1-2 9.0 3.2
3-5 9.0 1.7
6+ 9.4 0.6

This bodes well for mobile gaming in general and we have seen that in the massive groundswell of developer support for both the iPhone/iPod and Apple’s new iPad.

But those aren’t the only smartphone platforms out there. It includes Google Android, Maemo (from Nokia), Symbian S60 (also from Nokia), Blackberry OS,  Palm webOS and of course Windows Mobile. Samsung also just started releasing phones with their bada platform which should also widen smartphone gaming.

Which Games Smartphone Users Play

According to the comScore study, Arcade/Puzzle titles, Card games and word or number games (Scrabble, Sudoku)  take the top spots. Low man on the totem is FPS, most likely due to the limited number of games available, even though some of them are quite good.

Top Genres of Games Played on Mobile Devices
3 Months Ending February 2010
Total U.S., Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Percent (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Smartphone Non-Smartphone
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100.0 100.0
Arcade puzzle 12.9 2.5
Card 11.9 1.5
Word or Number 11.4 1.2
Casino 7.6 1.2
Retro arcade 6.3 0.9
Board 5.4 0.9
Quiz 3.9 0.6
Strategy 3.7 0.6
Sports 3.3 0.7
Racing 3.0 0.4
Action/adventure 2.5 0.3
Music/Rhythm 2.3 0.2
First person shooter 2.0 0.2
Other 1.3 0.2

Overall it’s certainly going to continue to grow more and more lucrative of a market as phones get stronger and prices go down. Why limit your gaming only to a handheld platform when you can do it right on your phone, a device you carry around with you the majority of the time already.

In : PC

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