Just six per cent of North American mobile gamers are contributing 51 per cent of the platform's revenues in the territory, says a report from analytics firm EEDAR.
The new study, available to download for free here, has re-emphasised the incredible importance of the so-called whales, which it defines as players spending at least $10 a month. Those heavy spenders, it estimates, are contributing around $293.70 a year each - totalling a phenomenal $2.35 billion. They're also more likely to be male, older than the average player and using both a smartphone and a tablet. 71 per cent of North America's mobile whales are male, EEDAR believes.
Curiously, despite every other category of player increasing the time they spent playing mobile games year-on-year, the whale finds him or herself playing less in 2014 than they did in 2013, enjoying a still-significant 9.9 hours a week rather than last year's 11.8. That's still a lot more than moderate ($1-$9.99 per month) players, who average 6 hours a week, or non-payers, who still play 4 hours of mobile games a week.
"EEDAR's exclusive research shows exponential growth in the mobile and tablet games sector - yet only a small amount of game publishers are profiting from an even smaller percentage of paying mobile gamers," said EEDAR's head of Insights and Analytics Patrick Walker. "An informed strategy is now critical to success in this difficult market, but the opportunity that comes with proper execution is huge."
Walker was also keen to point out a mistake that many mobile developers are making - especially those with a background in console development.
"We have identified the main factors that are producing growth in a competitive and oversaturated market, helping developers understand which consumers are choosing mobile and tablet games and more importantly why they are playing them. Contrary to where many developers are currently going, it's not core gamers seeking traditional console experiences on a mobile platform."
Unsurprisingly, as shown above, EEDAR also confirms that the 'front page' of the app stores are all-important to discovery, with 43 per cent of the survey's 3,500 respondees saying that a quick scan of the top ranked titles was the only way they discovered new games. Second in the list was word of mouth, at 36 per cent, with featured apps coming third with 35 per cent.Cost was the key driver for downloads, with most people spending in game doing so to progress or experience new content.
The study also examines tablet vs. smartphone platform divide, revenue by OS, methods of engagement and reasons for stopping playing.