iOS and Android game markets controlled by new publishers

Traditional publishers have entered the mobile market, but can't beat the new wave

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.

Gaming is the most popular use for smartphones.

Gaming is the most popular use for smartphones.

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.

Gaming has grown explosively on smartphones.

Gaming has grown explosively on smartphones.

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.

New publishers are expanding their domination of the market.

New publishers are expanding their domination of the market.

More stories

Tappx acquires Fantasy Manager developer From The Bench

The adtech company is looking to diversify its strategy and enter the mobile games market

By Marie Dealessandri

TikTok testing gaming functionality - Report

Social media platform has been running trials in Vietnam, could roll out to more markets in third quarter

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (16)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
I like this.
Phone gaming is currently growing at 2,000% per annum. Whilst the console game industry peaked in around 2009 and is going very quickly down hill. Yet still huge chunks of the industry are in denial.
Most existing boxed game publishers just cannot get their heads round games as a service. They are too set in their ways.
Some old school publishers have tried to fix this by buying out the some of the more successful new mobile publishers. Chillingo to EA, for instance.
But pretty soon the new publishers will be rich enough to buy out the old publishers for their IP. Zynga could easily buy Sega, for instance, which would give them a treasure trove of content.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Bruce, you ignore 2 things.

1) It's not publishers being set in their ways, it's consumers. If consumers didn't want boxed products anymore, they'd stop buying them.

2) Game experience. Some gamers like Tower Defense, particle tossers, etc... Other gamers want a Skyrim, Mass Effect, Zelda, etc.... Those experiences are still not found on mobile phones.

It's great that independent developers have a market they can tap into. And it's great that consumers have a market filled with easily digestible titles.

But both serve a market, both are valid, neither is destroying the other. Why must you continually denigrate the console market? Specifically boxed retail?
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games10 years ago
Traditional publishers, make traditional games, that will never work well on touch screen only devices. They need to make new IP and franchises that work well with the limited interface, not shoe horn epics titles into them. Only make spin off titles where they really make sense and actually add something.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (16)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Did you actually read the article above?
Did you read this one:

I am not denigrating the console market. Just pointing out that it has peaked as people take their gaming time onto other platforms.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
This only tracks "sessions" - it does not track any game experiences that are local only, which I think is by far the majority of them. So I'm not sure how reliable these numbers are in terms of showing the real story - just the story in terms of online/connected games.

A quick look at the top#20 PAID games on Android (i.e. now) has around 70% of the titles owned by established devs, or devs that have released the title on a traditional console/handheld. Titles from #21-#40, has almost total domination of known titles.

Ratio is similar for free titles, possibly a little lower.

One amusing thing: 19 of the top 20 "Top Grossing" games ... are free.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters10 years ago
Mobile gaming is selling well because it's dirt cheap. I've bought a few games myself for the kind of money you find down the back of your sofa. They range from mediocre to absolute garbage, but because they're so cheap I'm not really that bothered, but I've still paid. Console games are suffering from lack of new, exciting IP because it's so expensive to make and very few are in a position to gamble and try it. But still, no one will put the likes of Mass Effect 3 back on a shelf thinking "nah, throwing a cartoon bird at a pig should satisfy my gaming urges". There is nothing on mobile that comes even close to providing the same experience as the better console games.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
"But still, no one will put the likes of Mass Effect 3 back on a shelf thinking "nah, throwing a cartoon bird at a pig should satisfy my gaming urges"."

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd10 years ago
"There is nothing on mobile that comes even close to providing the same experience as the better console games."

The gap is getting narrower all the time. Increasingly recent and complex console games are getting ported over, and more publishers (including most of the major Japanese publishers) now count mobile as one of their primary targets. Things have moved on considerably in the two years since Angry Birds debuted.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
No doubt, Robin. But that still a long way off before mobile can offer the same level of depth and experience the console games do. Mass Effect 3 for instance will not be possible on a mobile device for a while.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
It's definitely important to note that game sessions were tracked for this study, not sales of games per se. However, since the majority of revenue for games on iOS now comes from in-app purchases, and on Android advertising is perhaps the major revenue source, game sessions are a very important indicator of relative monetization.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Later this year top end phones and tablets will have 4 core CPUs and 8 core GPUs. Next year they will be even more powerful. Screens will be far better than 1080p.

That is not a long way off.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters10 years ago
With a battery life of about half an hour. On a touchscreen, which I find an utterly horrible control method for games. On a tiny screen that gives me neck ache to keep looking down at. Unless I plug it into the wall, and into my TV, and use a control pad... and suddenly I'm playing on a console again.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Podesta Lead Programmer, SASimulations10 years ago
the ipads can stream to tv and can use bluetooth controllers, for people that want that experience (admittedly not many games currently support bluetooth though). my household has 3 people sitting around with their own ipads, so much better than sitting around waiting for a turn on ME3 (for us anyway). The game complexity is getting very close to console experience now on some titles, though the touch interface is obviously not for everyone.

For the console to survive, it is not enough for a niche group of gamers to want joypads over touch. To sustain 100mil budgets, they need a MASSIVE group of gamers to prioritise $50+ games and big screen and joypad experiences or else the whole thing collapses... interesting times ahead..

Also, as with most statistics, these are deceptive. I'd like to see how many "established" companies there are vs how many "independent" companies there are.
I think you'll find there's like 100 to 1 ratio which is the only reason why it looks like independents are doing better.

Also, does this graph take into account the few anomalies like Rovio and Halfbrick which will skew all the stats one way or another and is not representative of the general marketplace.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Podesta on 13th March 2012 12:14am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 10 years ago
Well, I'm not sure from whence comes this need to force everyone to conform to one way of doing something.

Games as a service makes money - but you'll never do anything with a lot of gameplay depth like BioShock or whatnot using that model. Some people want that in-depth, super-immersive gaming experience.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
William Johnson Entertainment Industry Analyst, Google10 years ago
Mobile gaming is a complement to any other type of gaming, not a substitute. I think it is inaccurate to talk about the growth in mobile as displacing console gaming, therefore discussions about converging hardware distract from what is really going on in the space (sorry Bruce).

Yes, hardware is improving. While it does, it makes it possible to do more on a mobile phone than was previously possible. But you only need to play GTAIII on your phone a couple times to reach a few conclusions: (1) this is cool (2) this kills my battery (3) this is hard to control (4) I cannot really get into this game on this screen (5) oops, my commute is over.

All of the data around media consumption on tablets and mobile phones point to parallel consumption; people use tablets and smartphones parallel to consuming media consumption. I believe the best of gaming will grow to capture this aspect of the platform's strength and leverage to improve the console offering. The best games on these devices will continue to be built around the few key similarities of really successful mobile titles to date: (1) game boot and play is near immediate-- it's fast to play (2) gamer can leave and return to a game without penalty or loss of engagement (3) for collaborative/competitive games (e.g. Words With Friends) turns are asynchronous.

The opportunity for big studios is to build experiences that complement the console environment but don't need the power or the screen size. Search "Madden 2012" on the Android Marketplace. Over 5million mobile copies of Madden 2012 have been downloaded (at $5 per, and this doesn't count the 9.9M attributed to the EA Netherlands version). The next most popular title is an unlicensed, unaffiliated app that allows you to browse the player rosters from Madden 2012. 1.1 million people have downloaded an app that allows them to do nothing more than browse the player attributes of the console game. Why isn't EA owning this space? Why not allow users to do all the management, trading, draft-picking, etc. on their phones during their commutes, reserving visually impressive gameplay for the console?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Todd Hooper CEO, Zipline games10 years ago
The comments about sessions needing to be 'online' are incorrect. All mobile games with Flurry style analytics track gameplay, regardless if they are connected play games or not.

99% of phones are continually connected by 3G or WiFi. The only exception is iPods and tablets without 3G, and even those are connected > 50% of the time based on the data I've seen. When devices are completely offline, analytics data is typically queued and uploaded when there is a connection later.

You could argue that Flurry is not a valid cross section of games, but you can't argue that they aren't collecting the data.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.