The early days of smartphone gaming were dominated by the many new developers that sprang up to take advantage of the wide open markets. Once the markets began to mature, publishers of traditional console and PC games began to put games on smartphones. Some predicted that established publishers with big budgets, experienced developers, and huge brand names would quickly dominate the mobile markets.
But a new analysis by mobile analytics firm Flurry completely demolishes that prediction, showing that established publishers only control about one third of the games being played on mobile platforms.
Flurry examined user sessions in January and February of 2012 to give the most current picture of game usage in the combined Android and iOS markets. It tracked more than 64 billion application sessions over more than 500 million active Android and iOS devices (note that while Android recently claimed more than 300 million devices activated, and last week Apple said that 315 million iOS devices have been sold, not all of those devices are still active.).
Games accounted for more than half of all the sessions tracked, as can be seen on the chart. Flurry also noted that the number of game sessions has been expanding rapidly over the last three years, with over 20 times the number of sessions in Q1 2012 as were played in Q1 2010.
Flurry looked at games created by developers who began developing on iOS and Android and compared the number of sessions to games from publishers who had published titles on other platforms prior to releasing iOS and Android titles. Their numbers show that while the percentage of game sessions for new publishers dipped in 2011 (perhaps due to acquisitions of new publishers by established publishers), it expanded once again in 2012. New publishers command some 68% of all game sessions.
Clearly the advantages possessed by established publishers have not translated into overwhelming success in the mobile space. This suggests that for traditional publishers, targeted acquisitions of talented mobile publishers is the best long-term strategy for controlling market share in mobile games.