How Mobile Is Changing the Video Game Market

Last week, mobile analytics firm Flurry released the results of a survey of more than 60,000 users who play mobile social games — a space that includes everything from Electronic Arts’ Pogo lineup to Zynga’s Words With Friends and FarmVille. As it turns out, on-the-go gamers are very different than their console-playing counterparts.

The average mobile social gamer is 28 years old, according to Flurry — about six years younger than the average player on consoles or PCs — and women account for 53 percent of the worldwide mobile social gaming market. That’s somewhat different from the stereotypical image of a 30-something dude chugging Red Bull to play a war game all night. And with the continued proliferation of smartphones laying the foundation for dramatic long-term growth, advertisers, developers and app store operators bear the following in mind:

For advertisers: Mobile social gaming is far more mainstream than the world of console gaming. So its audience is low-hanging fruit for a wide variety of potential advertisers, especially those looking to target both women and men. Unlike other types of mobile ads, social gaming is well suited to the kind of “actionable” advertising strategies that ask a consumer to engage with a brand or click to call. But those ads should be more than just the pedestrian banner ads that increasingly ignored by consumers (and that often just push other mobile games). Instead, advertisers should work with developers to integrate their campaigns with well-known games, and cross-promote them via traditional media and online ads.

For developers: Developers should employ every available strategy in monetizing mobile social games, from the promising freemium model to simple paid downloads to free titles supported entirely by ad revenues. And mobile social gaming is a particularly good fit for in-app purchases that encourage users to cough up a few dollars to acquire virtual tools or access new levels. (As long as those games don’t encourage kids to ring up ridiculous charges on their parents’ phone bills.)

For app store operators: The likelihood of an app being found gets increasingly harder as the Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market add more titles. So app store operators can cash in on the exploding space by making sure the best — and most lucrative — games are easy to find. They should spotlight the most popular and highest-quality games as “featured” titles, especially those from established, trusted publishers, and make it easy for gamers to find relevant titles by using recommendations based on past purchases and reviews. And app stores should leverage the social component by encouraging users to suggest specific games to their friends who opt to receive those suggestions.

For more data on the growth of the mobile gaming market, please see my weekly column at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Image source: Flickr user pfig.

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