Despite the economic downturn, Mintel estimates sales of mobile games to reach $2.5 bn by 2016. Smartphones and tablets have shown the most rapid adoption rates in the history of consumer electronics, with about 2 million Americans acquiring their first smartphone monthly, and ownership of tablets standing at about 30% of all adults, just three years after product launch.

Mobile games will earn revenue not just from sales to gamers, but also from advertising—an excellent channel for reaching young men—and from licensing deals for merchandise, feature films, and other products and services.

Gamers are likely to seek out the best, most innovative games regardless of weather they are available as a mobile app, a social network game, a portable site, handheld console, home console, or on a PC. Mobile game builders already often build games for multiple mobile OS, but this step can be taken further to allow mobile apps to be utilized across any platform, ideally with the ability to pick up from where the game was left off on another device.

Young adults driving revenue

The majority of revenues in mobile gaming come from in-game purchases. Adults aged 18-24 are most apt to make these purchases, with adults older than 45 the least likely to do so. Gamers aged 18-24 grew up with PC and console gaming and are accustomed to paying upwards of $60 for games; these adults appear to be more than willing to make micro-transactions to enhance their mobile gaming experience.

The networking effect

Gamers are most likely to say they heard about their most recent download from friends or family. About one in four gamers learned about the last game they downloaded from a friend or family member, 7% saw a post on a social network about it, and 10% saw someone else playing it. Combined, these first-hand sources influence about 40% of downloads.

Men aged 18-34 most critical target

Analysis by Mintel reveals that men aged 18-34 are a critical demographic for mobile games. Counter to the stereotype that young men are not interested in casual games, men aged 18-34 are significantly more likely than older men or women in the same age bracket to have downloaded a game in the past month—some 70% of men aged 18-34 downloaded a free game in the past month. Men age 18-34 are also much more likely than women their own age or older men to have downloaded three or more mobile games in the past month.

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