Mobile games became the biggest category in gaming in 2014, and it widened its lead even more in 2015, according to a new report by market researchers App Annie and IDC.
The data reinforces the point that mobile games reach more than a billion people across the globe, while the hardcore communities on PCs and consoles are concentrated in a smaller number of people. In 2015, mobile games were a $34.8 billion business worldwide, according to the report. PC and Mac games were second as a platform at $29 billion, while home game consoles were an $18.5 billion business and handheld game devices were $3 billion. Full told, more than $85.4 billion was spent on games in 2015, according to App Annie and IDC.
Games accounted for about 38 percent of total downloads on Google Play and the iOS App Store, but they accounted for more than 80 percent of worldwide consumer spending on the app stores. Games were a larger share of consumer spending on Google Play, but consumers spent more time playing iOS games than Google Play games.
“It is finally clear that mobile is the No. 1 platform,” said Fabien Nicolas, vice president of marketing communications, in an interview with GamesBeat. “It is 40 percent of the overall customer spending on games, and it explains why Activision Blizzard bought King for $5.9 billion. When it comes to total time spent in games and total revenues, everyone is fully acknowledging mobile now.”
Nicolas noted that only a handful of companies have a presence across all of the major categories of gaming. That includes companies such as Tencent, Activision Blizzard, and Electronic Arts.
“In the past, mobile didn’t monetize as well as the PC or consoles, but its reach has become so big,” Nicolas said. “Games like Clash of Clans, Monster Strike, and Puzzle & Dragons are generating money comparable to games like Call of Duty.”
IDC supplied much of the data on PC and console games, while App Annie provided data on mobile games.
Asia-Pacific gained share when it comes to game spending on iOS and Google Play, mainly due to the overall health of the region and the explosive growth of iOS in China. Handheld games and PC and Mac games gained share in Asia Pacific, but home consoles didn’t see much growth despite a 14-year ban on consoles in China being lifted during 2015.
But home consoles led all the platforms when it comes to consumer spending per device, with spending that is five times more than gamers spend per mobile device. Home game console spending was disproportionately high in North America and Western Europe, while mobile gaming and PC and Mac gaming were centered in Asia Pacific.
Clash of Clans from Supercell was the No. 1 top-grossing mobile game on iOS, while Mixi’s Monster Strike was the biggest game on Google Play. The top revenue-generating titles on mobile were actually more stable over the course of the year than those on handheld game devices. Home and handheld game console spending fell slightly in consumer spending from 2013 to 2015.
In the U.S., males and females were evenly represented across mobile devices and the PC and Mac. But U.S. home console gamers were 59 percent male. Handheld game consoles in the U.S. were 53 percent female.
But Nicolas said handhelds are getting hurt by a “compression” in the market, where kids are getting smartphones and younger and younger ages.
PC and Mac gaming skewed older in the U.S., with about 59 percent aged 45 or older. Handheld game devices had the largest share of young American gamers at 36 percent under 24 years old. U.S. mobile gamers were strongest in the 25 to 44-year-old category at 40 percent.
“Core gamers are definitely playing mobile games, particularly if you look at games like Hearthstone,” Nicolas said. “You can see that the Call of Duty companion app is very strong among people who play the Call of Duty mobile game.”