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PopCap: Mobile handsets now top gaming device

55% of smartphone owners prefer to play games on their handset, claims survey

A new survey commissioned by PopCap Games has suggested that one third of U.S. and UK adults play video games on their mobile phones, as the use of consoles and computers for games is surpassed amongst smartphone owners.

The survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group, found that amongst mobile phone gamers, the mobile phone was their primary gaming device of choice. Predictably smartphone owners were found to be the most enthusiastic of all mobile gamers.

Of the 2,425 consumers polled 52 per cent said they had played a mobile phone at some point in the past, with 73 per cent of UK consumers saying they had played at least once and 44 per cent of U.S. residents.

A total of 33.6 per cent of all adults in the two countries had played mobile games in the past month - the criteria by which they were identified as 'mobile phone gamers'. A total of 24.6 per cent had played in the past week, making them 'avid mobile phone gamers' in the eyes of the survey. This total rose to 83 per cent for those who owned a smartphone.

PopCap Games commissioned a similar survey purely for AT&T customers in the U.S. in 2009, the results of which have now been released in full. The developer of games such as Bejeweled and Plants Vs. Zombies now derives almost a third of all revenues from mobile sales.

When compared against other gaming formats 44 per cent of mobile gamers preferred to play on their phones, compared to 30 per cent for computers and 21 per cent for consoles. The preference for mobile games rose to 55 percent for smartphone and 51 per cent for avid mobile gamers. In 2009 just 17 percent of mobile gamers said their handset was their format of choice.

As many as 49 per cent of smartphone gamers and 43 per cent of all mobile gamers said they had upgraded a free trial game to a paid-for version in the last year. A total of 27 per cent of mobile gamers and 34 per cent of smartphone gamers had bought downloadable content in the same period.

In 2010 smartphone owners bought an average of 5.4 games, compared to other mobile users who purchased 2.9 titles. Smartphone owners also spent more on average on games, at $25.57 versus $15.70.

Over a third (37 per cent) of smartphone owners said they had played a social networking game on their phone at least once a week, a total that fell to 19 per cent for mobile gamers.

As many as 84 per cent of all mobile gamers admitted to playing games on their phone at least once a week and 35 per cent daily. This rose to 97 per cent with smartphone owners, 45 per cent of who said they played daily. In 2009 only 13 percent of mobile gamers played daily and 40 per cent weekly.

Exactly half of mobile games said the amount of time they had spent playing games on their phone had increased in the last year, with 63 per cent of smartphone owners indicating the same. In 2009 the figure was only 20 per cent.

As a result 78 per cent of mobile gamers and 84 per cent of smartphone owners said playing mobile games had become a regular part of their weekly routine. A total of 59 per cent of mobile gamers and 68 per cent of smartphone owners said it had become a daily routine.

In total 23 per cent of all mobile phone usage, not including phone calls, was found to be devoted to games.

"Mobile games are, along with social games, the hottest sector of the video game industry by far," said Dennis Ryan, executive vice president of worldwide publishing at PopCap.

"As more people purchase smartphones and the entire process of finding, purchasing and playing mobile games becomes as simple as browsing the internet, the mobile games market is going to accelerate even more," he added.