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Mobile games booming as global games market hits $108.9B in 2017 - Newzoo

Research firm estimates that smartphone and tablet game revenues will account for 42% of worldwide sales this year

Newzoo's latest quarterly update for its Global Games Market Report forecasts that the global games business will grow to $108.9 billion this year, with mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) generating a lion's share of the revenue. Newzoo called mobile the "most lucrative segment" while noting that it should grow 19% year-on-year to $46.1 billion, which would represent 42% of the market. By 2020, mobile gaming will represent just over half of the total games market, the firm said.

While mobile includes tablet gaming revenues, the sector is clearly dominated by smartphones. Of the $46 billion expected this year, Newzoo said $35.3 billion will come from smartphone gaming; at the same time, tablet unit sales "have plummeted," Newzoo commented. Even so, there are 280 million tablets being actively used worldwide, contributing more than $10 billion to worldwide gaming revenues.

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One of the big reasons for mobile's continued growth is the rise of China's gaming market. Overall, APAC territories will generate $51.2 billion (47% of the global total) this year, Newzoo said, and China will be responsible for one quarter of all global game revenues, reaching $27.5 billion this year. That's notable because it outpaces the US games industry, which is expected to reach $25.1 billion. Mobile revenues in China, expected to be led mostly by Tencent and NetEase, should come in at $11.2 billion for 2016, Newzoo said, and that's expected to rise to $14.6 billion this year.

Even without China, Japan and Korea, the rest of Asia is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the world in the coming years, with total game revenues growing to $10.5 billion in 2020, up from $4.5 billion last year. That said, North America remains a massive market as the second largest region with estimated revenues of $27.0 billion in 2017 (up 4% year-on-year). That growth, although less impressive, will also be driven by mobile, which is not yet saturated. "Growth is fueled by a combination of a higher share of spenders as well as average spend per paying gamer. We see the same trend in EMEA which we expect to reach $26.2 billion in 2017. Latin America will grow to $4.4. billion in game revenues this year," Newzoo commented.

Looking at the console and PC gaming segments, Newzoo said that console gaming should generate a total of $33.5 billion in revenues worldwide, with almost two-thirds of that coming from digital. Last year, Microsoft and Sony alone generated more than $14 billion in combined console revenues from first-party games, third-party game fees, and subscription revenues. While console has been faring better than expected, Newzoo noted that PC is seeing increased engagement but a decrease in sales. "We now expect downloaded/boxed PC games to reach $24.5 billion in 2019, a significant adjustment downwards compared to the $29.0 billion global figure for PC games in our January update," the firm said.

Part of the problem for PC on the digital side has been the drop in browser and social games, and the shift for casual users over to mobile. "PC browser revenues have been decreasing since 2015 because of the transition of casual gaming to mobile devices. In 2016, Facebook's revenues from gaming were at their lowest since 2011 while Zynga's PC revenues dropped more than 30%," Newzoo said.

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