Moms, Kindle, Platform Agnosticism Are The Gaming Trends To Watch

by , Dec 9, 2013, 9:34 AM
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We have said it before -- but here we go again. If marketers want to understand mobile content and usage, and think harder about how to integrate either ads or services into consumers' lives, they need to wrap their heads around gaming. It is the primary use of mobile devices aside from talk. A new IDC/App Annie report on mobile gaming shows again that about 40% of app downloads in both the Google Play and iOS stores are games. On a revenue basis, of course, it isn't even a contest. Approximately three-quarters of consumer spending on apps (a little less than that in IOS and a little more on Android) is going to game companies.

The two most popular devices for gaming are the iOS iPad and the Android smartphone. Actually, the iPad is the device preferred by about 50% of gamers asked.

Any marketer who has been paying attention to the gaming space knows that the genre left the pimple-faced shut-in boys behind ages ago. The PC saw the rise of casual gaming that women embraced as fanatically as their hack-and-slash counterparts. This is especially true on devices. The average Android smartphone gamer, for instance, is 41 years old -- and 53% are female. Likewise, the average iPad gamer is 42, and 54% of iPad gamers are female.

While Android is an important target for marketers in gaming, its tablet appeal remains very limited -- preferred by only 5% of those asked. Interestingly, the Amazon Kindle Fire emerges as a real player here. Not only was the Amazon tablet preferred as a gaming device by about 12% of gamers (more than the Nintendo 3DS/DS family), but it is also as popular with Android smartphone users, as is the Android tablet. Even among iPhone owners, more than 30% of whom play in iPads, the Fire was the second-most-common gaming device.

A few things are noteworthy here. The Fire’s popularity is significant, especially since it comes on a genre for which the platform is not associated -- gaming. Amazon itself famously dances around releasing real sales figures for its devices. But this finding among gamers suggests that the Fire is the one Android tablet device making headway.

People are playing on multiple platforms. Those who are developing games, branded or otherwise, need multiplatform presence and (I think) synchronization. Precious few games I have seen actually let a player pick up and drop off their game play across phone, tablet and PC.

In fact, if you look at some of the bestsellers and games arriving on tablets -- especially this season -- you will see echoes of the other platforms. Games like "Wolf Among Us," "Assassins Creed Pirates," "Heroes of Dragon Age," and "Space Hulk" are versions of or direct ports of popular franchises on console and PC. The developers are beginning to follow the gamers, who have been playing fluidly on many platforms already for years.

In many ways, the portable gaming habit and games development are aligning perfectly with the current problem in mobile marketing -- tracking and targeting users across platforms. These are titles that increasingly are being promoted and consumed on multiple devices and engage the consumer at many touchpoints throughout the day and night. Gaming remains a marketing platform that is begging now more than ever to be decoded.  

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