23% of app gamers only play on mobile

NPD study finds 59% of app gamers' playtime spent on smartphones and tablets, 30% buy upgrades or IAP

New research from the NPD Group offers some perspective on the overlap between mobile and console or PC gamers. According to the company's Mobile Gaming 2012 report, an August survey with more than 5,900 respondents found that of those who play on mobile devices, 23 percent do so exclusively. Additionally, 59 percent of all app gamers' playtime was spent on a mobile device.

The NPD Group's findings also underscored a key challenge facing mobile developers: getting people to actually spend money on their games. Of those who are playing more games this year than last, 37 percent said free apps were a main reason why.

However, there was some willingness to spend, as 30 percent of app gamers said they had either upgraded from a free app to a paid version, or made an in-game purchase. On average, respondents said $3 for such an expenditure represented a good value. Breaking down the app gamer market a little further, the NPD Group found that tablet gamers were more likely to have made in-app purchases or upgraded to paid versions of games than their smartphone-using counterparts.

"Many mobile gaming consumers have grown accustomed to gaming for free, making it essential to find the sweet spot for pricing that encourages purchasing by as many consumers as possible," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said, adding, "Another opportunity for the industry as a whole is to convert mobile-only gamers to engage in other gaming activities across portables, consoles and PC's where we see more money being spent per user."

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Latest comments (6)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
This is my understanding of the market. Mobile devices are now predominant for gaming time and reach whole demographics that are untouched by console. Also IAPs are a popular and successful monetisation mechanic.
IAP is still inits infancy and every week sees new experimentation. It is the bedrock that the future of the gaming industry will be built on. Give people the game for free, then if they are sufficiently emotionally engaged they will pay to upgrade their experience.

Obviously many are in denial but the facts are the facts.
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Tamir Ibrahim Programmer, Splash Damage6 years ago
To quote:

"Bruce, do you actually type your responses out every time or just copy and paste them from your "standard responses" document?"
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers6 years ago
I think the one copying and pasting responses is you, Tamir. :)

This is the new normal for the industry, where mobile games are significant and many people aren't playing games anywhere else.
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David, I think the vast majority of these people wouldn't play games anywhere else anyway. So what's the point?

I know absolutely noone who considers mobile games a substitute for console or PC games, except for Bruce and other people trying to convince their products are the next big thing. I think overlap of the casual and core game markets is negligable.

Sure, mobile gametime might eat up a bit of core gametime. On the other hand, I would argue something else is equally true. With gaming becoming more mainstream, it introduces people to the concept and pleasures of gaming and generates interest for big games, therefore even expanding the core games market. After all, Microsoft sold 270.000 Xbox 360's in September in the US alone. Where are these people coming from?
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 6 years ago
So in other words, 77% of people who play mobiles games do so simply when they are outside and return to real big production when they are at home. That's the proof that mobile is a separate market, not one to replace the core gaming.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
@Laurens Bruins
@Pier Castonguay

It is good that you are trying to look at what real people (the market) are actually doing. So you might find this research interesting:

One finding: Mobile is the new primary home gaming platform, especially for tablet owners
50% of the mobile gamers in the survey agreed that mobile gaming is their favoured method of game play at home over traditional consoles, computers and handheld gaming devices. Tablet-only players preferred home play on mobile devices even more (57%).
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