A surge of social gaming in mobile has sparked a rapid adoption of gaming on mobile devices, as the gambling industry makes in-roads into the expanding sector. Leading social gaming company PopCap Games recently carried out a survey that projected more than 125 million people play mobile games in the UK and US.
Still a brand new environment, players are trying a selection of free-to-play social casinos. Companies are testing new games, methods and business models to best engage consumers. Rapid advancement in mobile technology and wireless capabilities is changing the way people become accustom to interact with gaming.
Commissioned by leading technology research group Information Solutions, the survey revealed 44 percent of participants had played at least one mobile game in the past month, a yearly increase of 29 percent. The ratio of new gamers doubled over the past three years from 22 percent in 2009. In addition, 22 percent play more than 3 hours a week, which compares to 14 percent in 2011.
Tablets are creating new players with 9 percent of participants (representing a market of 11 million) indicating they became a new gamer by playing one or more games on a recently purchased tablet. As laws in the US start opening mobile casino opportunities, software developers are quick to provide casinos with customised applications to satisfy the growing demand.
Almost half of all video game time is now performed on a mobile device, indicating a huge shift of customer preference. Not only that, technology, software applications and processes pioneered by the video game industry can be integrated into new, dynamic and innovative social and mobile gambling solutions.
Smart-phone adoption amongst mobile gamers increased by 16 percent to 71 percent in 2012. A growing popularity of tablets opens new possibilities for the gaming industry with 36 percent of mobile gamers now on a tablet. Dual device owners play games 16 percent more than single device owners.
“Smart-phone adoption continues apace and tablet adoption has added considerable fuel to the fire,” commented Dennis Ryan, PopCap’s VP of worldwide publishing, “Even more consumers are embracing the shift towards freemium games and other add-on game content purchases, driving the dramatic and rapid shift in the forms of monetisation being used by developers and publishers.”
General spending data indicates 51 percent of mobile gamers made game-related purchases in the past year. Only four out of every ten dollars spent was for in-game currency, whilst 61 percent of total expenditures were for game purchases.
With Facebook not allowing real-money wagering, monetisation methods have been left largely unregulated. Developers have altered how purchases are made and gamblers influenced. Players need to purchase virtual chips to progress through social casinos; opening new slot environments, tournaments, leader-boards and can now even win prizes.
Software providers are required to pay a 30 percent fee when purchases are made on the Facebook platform. Apple also charge a 30 percent flat fee for iOS and Google does a 30 percent revenue share for Android, but 5 percent for games on Google+.
This is blurring the lines between online and social gaming as operators look to make more money by social marketing techniques than good old-fashioned internet gaming. It also raises questions, especially related to underage gambling. In addition, alternative social media sites are looking to offer real-money gaming to take custom away from Facebook.
Gambling regulators in the UK and US are closely watching how social gaming develops to determine what constitutes gambling, and how to regulate and tax the sector. As social is becoming more attuned to mobile, another key area to unfold is how social media will combine with wireless technology and enter the realm of mobile casinos.
About Research Survey
Information Solutions Group conducted the 2012 Mobile Gaming Research report on behalf of PopCap Games. The results are based on 2,301 online surveys completed by members of the world’s largest online ePanel (Toluna) in the UK and US between April 25 and May 1, 2012.