Mobile gaming revenues, which are expected to be just under $5 billion worldwide this year, are expected to more than triple to $16 billion by 2016, according to a new study from ABI Research.
"[That estimate] is a bit on the conservative side," ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen tells Marketing Daily. "There's a large pool of potential users that will be using [mobile games] in the near future."
This development is spurred by the explosive growth in touchscreen smartphones as a gaming platform, coupled with the innovation among developers to create games that are simple to understand and play.
"Developers have finally figured out what makes a good mobile game," Markkanen says. "It's inclusive, accessible, and a player can have a meaningful gaming experience in short bursts."
Much of the revenue growth, however, won't come from the sales of games themselves, but rather from in-game purchases, such as buying access to additional levels or accessories within the game. In 2011, these in-game purchases account for a third of the total revenue base, Markkanen says. By 2016, they'll account for half of the total. In-game advertising will also increase considerably as more marketers view casual mobile gaming as a mass media.
"It's a serious mass medium for the future," he says. "The [advertising] market will double in the near future."
Still, the rise of mobile gaming is not "inevitable," Markkanen warns. As consumers get more content (particularly video) through their mobile devices, there could be encroachment on the stranglehold mobile games have in quick, simple entertainment. "The games have got something of a head start," he says. "But once the other segment develops, it may provide some serious competition for mobile games."