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Growing U.S. Mobile Gaming Revenue Upside

 
Casual gaming has driven the adoption of mobile games to more than a quarter of mobile phone subscribers and more than one in five members of the U.S. population, according to the latest eMarketer estimates.

This year, 64 million people will play mobile games at least monthly, a number that will rise to 94.9 million by 2014. eMarketer's estimates exclude mobile users who play pre-installed games, which offer publishers decent brand exposure but little in the way of monetization opportunities.

While games are currently popular on both smartphones and feature phones, the composition of the mobile gaming audience will shift further toward smartphones as they increase in penetration across the population.

According to comScore, smartphone gamers now account for 42 percent of the total. Still, both groups of gamers tend to prefer traditional casual games like Scrabble and Sudoku, though heavier gamers enjoy advanced offerings that are beginning to converge with console games.

eMarketer expects revenues from mobile gaming to reach nearly $850 million this year, with the vast majority coming from paid downloads. By 2014, mobile gaming revenues will top $1.5 billion.

Over the same period, advertising support will nearly double in importance -- accounting for 6.5 percent of revenues in 2010 and 12.3 percent of the total in 2014.

That makes for a sizeable mobile gaming market, but mobile still makes up only a small amount of all gaming revenues. According to TNS and Newzoo, just 4 percent of U.S. video game revenues came from mobile devices.

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