How Smartphone Popularity Impacts The Gaming Industry

 smartphone popularity and games

The increasing popularity of smartphones worldwide is affecting the global gaming industry.

It’s important for game publishers to consider the viability of games produced on various platforms for specific audiences. For global gaming publishers, this means taking a look at how smartphone popularity impacts the gaming industry. Use this quick guide to get started on the research you need to make a decision on how to proceed with your next mobile game release.

Increasing Global Popularity of Smartphones

In general, smartphone use is gaining in popularity on a global scale. According to eMarketer, the number of smartphone users worldwide will increase to 2.38 billion by 2017 — a 1 billion increase since 2013.

Similarly, game downloads on smartphones will also see increasing numbers. Smartphones and other mobile devices are more accessible by a variety of socio-economic and geographic audiences than traditional gaming consoles or computers. Additionally, mobile devices are more affordable, portable, and convenient making them an excellent choice for communications while traveling or commuting.

Smartphone Operating Systems Around the World

For gaming industry research purposes, the kind of operating system a smartphone uses is more important than the exact make and model, in most cases. According to Kantar’s report, the top three most popular smartphone operating systems in January 2015 for various countries around the world are shown in this chart.

smartphone OS use by country chart 2015

This table shows that as of January 2015, the most popular smartphone OS in top performing gaming countries was Android.

In many of the top global gaming countries, Android is the most popular smartphone OS, followed by iOS, then Windows. Android use is quite heavy worldwide, but in many cases iOS follows very closely.

Both Android and iOS systems are certainly the most important to focus development efforts, but it may depend on which exact audience you want to reach. In Brazil, with 90.8% of the population using Android devices, it may be best to center attentions only on Android. Windows OS may be slightly worthwhile in Europe and Australia, but other global markets seem to give it very little interest.

Also not noted in the chart above, Russia is another key global player to consider. By 2015 it is expected that Russia will become the fourth largest pool of smartphone users — even surpassing technology giant, Japan.

Increasing Popularity and Duration of Play of Mobile Games

It’s no doubt that mobile games are increasing in popularity. As noted above, many factors make smartphones a highly user-friendly product noted for its convenience and affordability. The small size is also especially conducive for children’s gaming activities.

The large game publisher EA reported in January 2015 that last year’s digital downloads for games had increased by 34%, showing the company’s success at driving mobile sales but also an increased popularity amongst consumers. According to a Newzoo report, the number of Americans who play games on their smartphone, tablet or iPod Touch has grew by 35% in the 2012. Additionally, an NPD report shows that in 2012 mobile gamers spent an average of 20 minutes per day playing. That number has now increased by 57% in 2014.

How to Proceed with Mobile Game Development

If you are considering developing a new mobile game for market deployment, success is not guaranteed. Many mobile game titles are flops, with a few notable super-successes (i.e. Angry Birds, Candy Crush, etc.). To improve your title’s chances, backend research is key. Consider your audience’s location, demographic, typical smartphone OS, preferences for game style, and cultural interests. You may even hire a professional to perform a survey to test your game’s viability.

In any case, the mobile game industry is definitely growing. A good marketing plan, plenty of pre-development research, and solid game design will aid in fulfilling daily download figures.

[Photo Credits: Highways Agency, XLOC]