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Upside for Social, Mobile and Online Casual Games


How many people are playing social, mobile and online games? How much revenue are social and mobile games producing, and how is this income derived? And, what online and mobile venues are game developers using, and how is the online venue mix evolving? These are some of the key questions that eMarketer pondered during their latest gaming market study.

American audiences for mobile games are growing rapidly, while active players for more mature categories -- such as social and online casual gaming -- are expected to grow more modestly in the next few years, according to eMarketer.

As a result, advertising in mobile gaming will expand faster than in other areas.

Social gaming revenues will also grow -- thanks to momentum in virtual goods monetization and advertising, but growth in social will be less spectacular than in mobile. Meanwhile, eMarketer believes that sales of traditional packaged video games and gaming consoles will show signs of contraction.

A survey by Frank N. Magid Associates indicated that game playing topped the list of mobile content activities among U.S. media tablet owners in June 2012, with 59 percent of respondents having done this activity.

Mobile gaming was also one of the top activities among American smartphone owners.

To support mobile, social and online casual games, the video game industry is continuing to evolve toward free, platform-agnostic games supported by a combination of advertising and virtual goods revenue.

According to eMarketer's assessment, mobile gaming revenue in the U.S. market will come from a combination of paid downloads, in-game purchases of virtual goods and in-game advertising.

That being said, advertising will contribute the least throughout the forecast period, while in-game purchases will trade places with downloads to become the largest revenue category in 2013 and beyond.

Advertising also represents a small portion of the social gaming economy compared with virtual goods -- which is currently the largest contributor to revenue growth.

Informed and savvy marketers are now tapping into the social, mobile and online casual gamer appetite for "free play" -- through branded virtual goods, opt-in videos, activity-based ads, product placements, sponsorships, custom games, advergames, interstitials and traditional in-game ads.

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