Commentary

Mobile Game Revenues Will Pass Console Revs This Year

Mobile media is changing everything, including how we waste our time, thanks to highly addictive mobile games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. In keeping with this trend, mobile game revenues will surpass console games worldwide this year, according to a new forecast from gaming market research firm Newzoo.

Last year total revenues from game sales on smartphones and tablets jumped 43% to over $25 billion worldwide. In 2015, Newzoo expects mobile game revenues to increase another 21% to $30.3 billion; by 2017, revenues will reach $40.9 billion. Meanwhile console game sales will stay flat at $26.4 billion in 2015; total game revenues from all sources will reach $92 billion in 2015.

The meteoric rise of mobile games is obviously good news for Google and Apple, which take a nice 30% slice of all game sales through Google Play and the Apple App Store, generating total revenues of $3 billion to $4 billion in 2014, Newzoo CEO Peter Warman tells Fortune.

Here in the U.S., over 70% of smartphone owners play games on their devices. Still, it’s worth noting that console games remain dominant in the U.S., where Newzoo predicts they will generate revenues of $11.1 billion in 2015, compared to $7.2 billion for mobile games. In proportional terms, console games account for 44% of U.S. game sales, PC games for 25%, tablets 15%, and smartphones 15% as well.

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It’s also worth noting that while game consoles are not ubiquitous like smartphones, they are increasingly multipurpose, with more and more console owners using them as media hubs, enabling access to Internet TV and video-on-demand services.

On a side note, it will be interesting to see how these shifting gaming habits affect the development of virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift, acquired by Facebook last year, and 3D or augmented-reality devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens. Personally, I’m hoping for massively multiplayer 3D “Laser Tag” and virtual paintball -- possibly incorporating space aliens and/or zombies.

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