With the rise in smartphone and tablet sales, suddenly millions of consumers who would never touch a video game console have found out that games are fun. This has led to a rapid increase in mobile game sales as new consumers throw their money at games while publishers experiment with a variety of pricing schemes.
Though the mobile game industry has been growing at a remarkable (and probably unsustainable) rate over the past few years, it doesn't that it will be slowing down any time soon. A new report out today from market research firms IDC and App Annie shows that the rising adoption of smartphone in emerging markets is continuing to propel the mobile game industry.
"Total portable game spending in Asia/Pacific outpaced that of any other major global region last year," said Lewis Ward, research director for Gaming at IDC. "The Google Play ecosystem in particular benefitted from a big regional upswing in the installed base of smartphones and tablets in 2013, but rising living standards in Asia/Pacific countries generally also buoyed game spending."
The report shows that sales of games on the iOS platform led all other categories during the holiday quarter 2013. This is despite the fact that game revenues on the Google Play platform quadrupled from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013. Handheld software sales from Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's PS Vita fell between the leading mobile platforms, selling less than the iOS platform despite a 9% rise in sales.
According to IDC's numbers the current winners in the mobile game market are in-line with game popularity. Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons are both two of the most popular games on both iOS and Google Play. Clash of Clans is more popular on iOS than Google Play, on which Monster Taming for Kakao is more popular. Nintendo rules the handheld space, with sales of Pokemon X & Y, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Luigi's Mansion leading a strong lineup of Nintendo 3DS software in 2013.
"While consumers have traditionally spent more on games versus other types of apps, more than 75% of combined iOS & Google Play consumer app spending in 4Q13 came from games," said Bertrand Schmitt, CEO of App Annie. "This is a significant increase compared to 4Q12 and a testament to the ever-growing popularity of games."