Are Smartphones a Vice or a Virtue for Gaming Industry?


The online world has transformed a lot in the past few years – all thanks to smartphones. As the name suggests, Smartphones are way smarter than their predecessors. Your entire world (workplace, home, club) is now at your fingertips when you have a smartphone in hand. It can not only improve the way you communicate, but also can change the way you stay entertained.

Talking about entertainment, Smartphones have proved to be an excellent tool. Whether it is watching videos or chatting up with friends on social networking sites or playing games and watching TV – a smartphone does it all.

As a matter of fact, the emergence of smartphone has given new life oops platform to the gaming experience (though some gaming industry giants may say otherwise). According to market researcher Newzoo, the global games market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7% to $ 86.1 billion by 2016. According the same research, the fastest-growing category in 2013 is smartphones/tablets, which will be up 35 percent to $ 12.3 billion.

Global Games Market 2012 - 2016

Lauren Hockenson, the games industry expert for technology-news site GigaOM, says, “I definitely don’t think handheld gaming is going to go extinct just because smartphone gaming exists. However, I don’t need to tell you that all console sales look like a joke compared to smartphone sales. Handheld gaming has especially taken a hit over the years because it’s simply easier to carry a smartphone or a tablet.

For the record, as per CEA’s projections for 2013 smartphones and tablets will have $ 65.2 billion in combined unit sales this year, up from $ 56.3 billion in 2012. Games industry too has experienced a massive growth in the past few years. A large section of the same can be attributed to the advent of smartphones that have generated a growth in mobile or casual gaming.

According to PwC executive director Megan Brownlow, “It (the spread of smart phones) has allowed the developers to bypass the big publishers and create smaller, cheaper games from their garages and their bedrooms and populise them directly to the platforms like the app (application) stores and get direct access to the gaming community.”

True, at $ 1.99 a mobile game is way cheaper than console gaming that can cost up to $ 80. The pocket pinch can be a bit too much for casual gamers.

Apart from mobile games, the use of smartphones has also resulted in a surge in social games, i.e., games available on different social networking platforms such as Facebook. Now, you can play bingo or Angry Bird on your mobile for that matter and have a great time. The bright side? You do not even have to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy these occasional leisurely activities.

Talking about gamers, there’s a difference between players of console-gaming and mobile or social gaming. In case of console gaming, the players are generally male under 35. According to Zynga, the most popular provider of social games, women on the better side of 30 dominate the social gaming scene. Shocking, right? Contrary to popular myth, teenagers are not the most active segment of social gamers. The age-wise classification is as follows:

  • 13 – 18 years old – 13%
  • 19 – 25 years old – 23.5%
  • 26 – 35 years old – 22%
  • 36 – 45 years old – 17%
  • 46+ years old – 24.5%

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of people playing video games has seen 241% growth since 2008 and a large part of the growth can be attributed to Facebook games like FarmVille and Kitchen Scramble and the rise in Smartphone sales and app downloads.

So, it can be easily said that social games and mobile games have made large contributions to take games industry to its present height.