Mobile games are big business in the UK. Two thirds of us now own a smartphone, and research last year by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) found that smartphones are now the most popular device for playing games.
This trend has been driven by free games, but consumers are also spending money on in-app purchases and paid-for games. In fact, a September report from the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) found that the in-app purchase model in mobile games now supports 21,000 full-time employees in the European Union.
ISFE expects to see double-digit growth in the European mobile games industry between now and 2017, making it the fastest growing ‘content’ sector in Europe, with consumer spending estimated at more than €20 billion (£14 billion) in 2015 alone.
Nicolas Pochez, UK & Ireland managing director for French video game developer Gameloft, also has high expectations for the industry’s future.
Speaking at OMD UK’s recent Innovation Week, he suggested that some smartphones are now more advanced than traditional games consoles on a technical level.
“If I was to be bold, I would say that mobile gaming has overtaken console gaming, but it depends on the machine,” he said, as quoted by TechRadar. “Looking at smartphones today, some are faster than three-year-old PCs.”
From here, a logical next step is for mobile gaming to move away from small smartphone and tablet screens and into the living room, with hardware such as Apple TV, Pochez believes.
“Playing games and apps on TVs is going to be huge — it’s the ultimate experience,” he said. “You can play games on smartphones on the move, and when you get home you continue where you left off on the TV, which means there’s no more console.”
But for now, at least, consumers are happy to carry on playing games on their smartphones. IAB’s survey revealed that, among those who prefer smartphones for gaming, one in four play on their phone every day.
“The internet and mobile devices have changed the gaming landscape forever,” commented Steve Chester, IAB director of Data & Industry Programmes. “They’ve brought down the barriers to entry, making gaming far more accessible and opened it up to a whole new audience. In the past you needed to go out and buy an expensive console and the discs on top to get a decent experience, now you can just download a free app.”
“It only takes a quick look around your commuting colleagues to see how widespread mobile gaming has become. However, the proliferation of free to play games, the rising cost of user acquisition and the difficulties involved in monetising games has made this an increasingly difficult market. Publishers are responding to these challenges in different ways and it will be interesting to see which of these strategies prove to be the most successful.” Paul Gardner, Partner