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The Gamification of Mobile Games

  
  
  

Apps are big business, and the biggest app business is games.  In 2012, Flurry estimates revenue earned from apps will approach $10 billion, with games taking over 80% of the pie.  The free-to-play business model (aka freemium), where consumers download and play the “core loop” of a game for free, but then pay for virtual goods and currency through micro-transactions, is the most prolific business model in the new era of digital distribution.  When it comes to app consumption on iOS and Android smart devices, consumers spend over 40% of all their time using games.

The most successful companies in the new mobile economy, from Electronic Arts to Zynga and Mobage to Supercell, deeply understand consumer behavior differences by game genre.  This level of understanding greatly informs a company’s app acquisition, retention and monetization strategies. In this report, Flurry examines the consumer behavior differences by app usage, retention and demographics for the top nine freemium game genres in mobile gaming.  For this analysis, Flurry leveraged a sample of more than 300 million consumers using iOS and Android games each month. Please note that, for consistency, we include only free titles.

In the chart below, we lay out a “loyalty matrix” that plots the top nine freemium game categories by how often they’re used compared to how long consumers continue to use them over time.  Specifically, we plot the 90-day retention rate of app categories on the x-axis against the frequency of use per week on the y-axis. We lay the “scatterplot” out in a Cartesian coordinate system with four quadrants. 

Games loyalty matrix v2 resized 600

Quadrant I represents a “sweet spot” for developers, whose games are used intensively by a set of highly retained users.  Well-designed “appointment” mechanics drive frequency, as users are compelled to maintain and progress in their respective game.  Social Turn-based games succeed in building an active, loyal user base by offering popular “evergreen” games played among friends.  From a revenue perspective, while there exists significant potential to show advertising impressions to consumers who use so frequently, games in the Slots and Resource Management & Simulation (labeled as “Mgmt/Sim”) genres commonly monetize via in-app purchase. However, companies that maximize revenue in Quadrant I extract revenue from consumers willing to pay via in-app purchase, and then by showing ads to those who do not pay.

Quadrant II is characterized by the most intensive usage over a short customer lifecycle, and is occupied solely by the Strategy genre. This audience is demanding, game lifecycles are short and a game’s live services must be flawlessly executed. Successful Strategy game developers accelerate monetization by driving competition among players (“Player vs. Player”) and by encouraging fast game progress through premium currency spends. With frequency of use so high, users churn through content quickly. To maximize retention, developers must continuously release new content after the game’s initial launch.

Quadrant III also attracts a fickle gaming audience, but adds the challenge of having fewer opportunities per week to monetize the user. The well-documented success of the Card-Battle genre in Asia, and now Western markets, is even more impressive when considering the short time frame developers have to drive transactions. Targeted user acquisition is critical to avoid paying for large batches of users that will drop off quickly due to the “hardcore” nature of the content and game mechanics.

Quadrant IV features easy-to-play and highly repeatable games that can remain on a user’s “play list” for years. These evergreen titles may lack the depth required to generate sizeable in-app purchases, but do generate substantial advertising impressions over time.  In addition to driving strong ad revenue, the large audience size of these games can be used to cross-promote a developer’s more narrowly focused, but better monetizing titles. 

As the mobile app economy grows, the sophistication of its related advertising services will reach those found on the Internet today. Leveraging big data, the ability to target users based on demographics and personas, and then track the effectiveness of such targeting is just starting to take hold (Flurry has invested in this direction with its own services like Flurry AppCircle, an ad network, and Flurry Ad Analytics, an ad effectiveness solution).  As developers and app marketing providers become more savvy, they can better acquire the kinds of users that will reliably play and pay in their apps.  Below, using the same sample set of games, we look at the Age and Gender of users by genre.

Games gender age matrix v1 resized 600

A quick review shows that Quadrant I is largely comprised of middle-aged females that play games we know to have attractive retention and usage metrics.

Quadrant II shows that males are not extending into the same 40+ average age-range as female players.  Casino / Poker games tend to attract older males the best.

Quadrant III is undoubtedly the hottest sector of the mobile gaming market, with young, male “core” gamers pausing their console gameplay sessions to increasingly play mobile games. These young men are difficult to corral, but can monetize at a rate that justifies the cost and effort of acquisition.

Quadrant IV shows younger females adopting games that feature more involved gameplay than those played by the middle-aged female crowd.  While the youngest users enjoy the quick solo experience of the Endless genre, the late twenties / early thirties crowd are diving deeper into game mechanics and making it a social experience.

As mobile gaming rapidly matures, it is becoming increasingly difficult for new and small developers to succeed. The game quality bar has risen dramatically, user acquisition costs continue to climb and organic installs via app store discovery and featuring are harder to come by. One great equalizer for developers is the ability to collect and harness the power of data. In fact, game developers tend to be the “power users” of analytics, using sophisticated metrics to track user progress, tune gameplay and maximize monetization (a large part of Flurry Analytics' use base is game developers).  In an industry that has historically been considered more artistic and subjective, connected devices and the ability to rapidly iterate on already shipped titles has ushered in an age of science and measurement.  In short, data has enabled the “gamification” of the mobile industry.

Mobile Freemium Games: Gen Y Plays, but Gen X Pays

  
  
  

Freemium games on iOS and Android continue to dominate the app economy, now accounting for over 65% of all revenue generated among the Top 100 grossing apps in the App Store alone.  In a series of recent pieces on free-to-play mobile games, we’ve shared insights about the relevance of this business model, consumer spending by price point and what kinds of items consumers purchase.

In this report, we focus on the audience who plays these games.  Specifically, we study differences between those who play and those who spend money in mobile freemium games.  This study uses data from a sample of iOS and Android freemium games with over 20 million users across more than 1.4 billion sessions gathered from Flurry Analytics, which tracks over 110,000 apps across the major smartphone platforms.  Let’s take a look at the results.

MobileFreemiumGames Time vs Money Spent resized 600

In the chart, we compare the relative distributions of time and money spent by age group.  Starting on the left-hand-side, the green bars represent which age groups spend the most time playing freemium games.  We see that ages 18 – 24 account for the most minutes spent, 32%, followed by ages 25 – 34 who represent 29% of usage.  Ages 13 – 17, 35 – 54 and 55+ then account for the rest of usage time at 22%, 14% and 3%, respectively.  The average age of the consumer, based on time spent, is 26.6 years old. 

Next to the green bars, in blue, we show the amount of money these same consumers spend on in-app-purchases within the same set of games.   The top spending group is 25 – 34 years old, accounting for 49% of total dollars spent, next followed by 35 – 54 year olds at 28%.  By contrast, the most dedicated users of these games in terms of time, the 18 – 24 year olds, rank only third in terms of money spent, generating 16% of IAP revenue.  13 – 17 year olds, a popular target audience of these games, account for only 5% of revenue.   Finally, the 55+ age group delivers 2% of revenue.  The average age of consumers who spend money in these games is 32.2 years old.

Broadly, we observe that heavy users of freemium games are younger, while spenders in freemium games are older.  The half that uses these games most, 13 – 24 year olds (55% of time spent), deliver only 21% of the revenue.  And the half that spends heavily, 25 – 34 year olds (49% of money spent), represent just 29% of usage.  We believe much of this has to do with play patterns, disposable income and relative available time.

In social games, consumers can advance in the game through “the grind,” the core set of gameplay activities that allows the user to level up, earn in-game currency and progress.  But to progress via “the grind” takes time and patience.  For consumers that have more time (or less money), they can afford (or must be) more patient.  Younger gamers, presumably high school and college-aged, likely have more time but less money.  So the grind is something they're willing or must commit to, in order to progress.   And with more total available time throughout their days, they can play more frequently.   Simply put, they become your loyal users, but it’s harder to extract money from them.

On the other hand, 24 – 35 year olds presumably have more disposal income, but less time, due to work and family demands.  This combination makes them less tolerant to engaging in “the grind,” but also better positioned to buy their way out of it.  They play less often, but make quicker progress by simply spending. Further, when we expand the age range to 24 – 54, this older group generates nearly four-fifths of all revenue in freemium games.  In short, your whales may be older than you think.

Our conclusion: Gen Y plays, but Gen X pays.

Freemium Mobile Gamers Spend Most Money on Items They Don’t Keep

  
  
  

Last month, we published two posts about iOS and Android freemium game revenue.  The first showed that, over the first half of 2011, game revenue in the App Store shifted dramatically from premium to freemium, with 65% of all revenue generated among the top 100 games now coming freemium games.  In fact, at the time of writing this blog post, all of the top 5 titles in the App Store top grossing category were freemium games, and 22 of the top grossing 25 were games.  The second post revealed that consumers spend an average of $14 per transaction when making in-app purchases in freemium games.

With in-app purchases in freemium games driving the bulk of revenue generation in the iOS and Android app economy, Flurry devotes this post to what consumers actually spend their real dollars on.  With over a year’s worth of data, Flurry categorized over 57 million purchase transactions across a set of freemium iOS and Android games that averaged over 2 million daily active users.

As in the world of retail goods, the two main categories available for purchase in freemium games are durable and consumable goods.  In freemium games, we define durable goods as items that provide a permanent gameplay benefit.  Examples include buying armor to increase defense in a role-playing game, or buying a building in a city simulation to increase city revenue.  By contrast, a consumable item is something that is depleted when used.  Examples include a set of grenades in a war game, or fertilizer that helps crops grow faster in a farming simulation.  Finally, we define personalization items as those that are durable but do not add any gameplay benefit (i.e., purely decorative).

Flurry $spent VirtualGoods FreemiumGames resized 600

The chart shows that over two-thirds of all items purchased in iOS and Android freemium games are consumable, goods that users deplete.  Measured another way, approximately half of all real dollars spent within all apps are for game items consumers don’t keep.  Based on our data, the most popular virtual purchase, consumable or otherwise, is for “premium” in-game currency.  Premium currency can be spent in a number of ways to accelerate progression in a given game, including converting it into “grind” currency, the primary currency that consumers accrue and use through normal gameplay (a.k.a. the “grind”).  Premium currency, which also allows consumers to purchase special items that cannot typically be acquired with regular “grind” currency, is said to “alleviate the grind” (i.e., allow a user to advance faster in a game).  Games that are designed with consumable items in mind tend to monetize very well.  For developers, this offers the best ROI on game development resources.

Next, durable items represent 30% of all in-app purchases in freemium games.  From a game design standpoint, it's important to have a good selection of durable items in a game as it offers important variety to the consumer with respect to the core gameplay, such as erecting buildings in a city.  Buying increasingly better performing durable items gives players a sense of progress, which can be important for engagement.  Additionally, offering bigger, better durable items allows users to set goals, or even change their gameplay strategy, in order to save up for, and make, bigger purchases.

As a side-note, the ratio between consumable and durable should vary depending on how critical these items are to the core gameplay experience. For example, a city-building game could lean more toward durables (e.g., buildings), since user progression is measured by creating a larger city, which is made up of individual buildings.  In contrast, a farming game could lean more towards consumables (e.g., seeds and fertilizer), where the game is about growing, harvesting and selling crops in order to earn grind currency.

Finally, personalization items represent only 2% of purchases.  Since these items don’t affect gameplay, consumers purchase them infrequently.  Also, consumers don’t tend to decorate, and then re-decorate, in most games.  For example, think about how often you change your Facebook or Linked In profile picture.  The rule should be that if a game is not largely about personalization, then add just enough of these items to allow players to create their own unique gameplay look and feel.

With Flurry estimating that total U.S. iOS and Android game revenue will surpass $1 billion in 2011, game developers should understand what consumers spend the majority of their money on.  As a business model, freemium games are here to stay.  While the consumer is indeed purchasing virtual items that are most often consumable, what’s most important to understand is the psychology behind these games.  In freemium games, consumers are experiencing compelling, immersive entertainment.  They feel gratified when they progress, accomplish goals, create a unique world, and in some cases, show off to their friends.  In exchange for this gratification, they are willing to spend real money, and lots of it.

Consumers Spend Average of $14 per Transaction in iOS and Android Freemium Games

  
  
  

[Editor's Note:  Jeferson is Flurry's GM of Games, who works with iOS and Android game developers to build more profitable games]

Digital distribution of games is disrupting the retail portable game category.  At the heart of this disruption is the proliferation of iOS and Android devices, which is doubling as a powerful portable gaming platform and challenging Nintendo DS and Sony PSP for gamer mindshare.  In previous reports (2008 - 2009, 2009 - 2010), Flurry measured that iOS’s and Android’s revenue share of the U.S. portable game software category exploded to 34% in 2010 from just 1% in 2008.

Over this same time period, we calculated that Nintendo’s U.S. portable game revenue share contracted to 57% from 75%.  All the while, Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has remained outspoken, calling smartphone games worthless and warning the gaming industry of boring consumers.  In  contrast, Wedbush Morgan Securities veteran video game analyst, Michael Pachter, stated in April 2011 that “Nintendo will have to share the market with Apple and Android” because “the onslaught of $1 games is going to continue.”  By Flurry’s calculations, the onslaught is now coming in at a crushing $14 per transaction and from within the Trojan horse of freemium (a.k.a. free-to-play) games.

Here we dissect transaction sizes within iOS and Android freemium games, the current juggernaut of smartphone game business models.  This report builds on analysis released earlier this month, when Flurry revealed that games drive 75% of revenue generated among the top 100 grossing iOS apps, of which 65% were generated from freemium games.  In the chart below, we look at how 3.5 million consumers spent their money across top iOS and Android freemium games.

Flurry F2P Transactions v Revenue byPriceTier v2 resized 600

The left-hand column shows the distribution of transaction sizes within freemium games: in other words, how many times consumers spent anywhere from $0.99 to sometimes over $100 per transaction.  Each purchase equates to a virtual good or currency in the game a consumer is playing.  We organize the data into three price buckets: under $10; from $10 - $20; and over $20.  You’ll see 71% of all transactions are for amounts under $10, 16% are for spends between $10 to $20 and 13% are for amounts greater than $20.  The average amount spent per transaction is $14. 

Let’s spend a moment on the $14 average, which may seem high to you at first blush.  There are two reasons the average settles here.  First, within the “under $10” bucket, most transactions cluster at the $9.99 level, followed by $4.99, and finally $0.99.  In fact, in total, consumers spent $0.99 less than 2% of the time. Why then would so few consumers spend just $1 in freemium games when this price point is so popular among premium games (the pay-before-you-can-play model)?  Because freemium games drive a different decision-making mindset for consumers. They simply are deciding whether or not to spend.  Our data shows that around 3% of consumers will spend money in freemium games.  A deep commitment to the game experience appears to influence their buying habits.  The second reason the $14 average seems high is because the high-end of the spending spectrum is very high.  Among all purchase price points, over 5% of all purchases are for amounts greater than $50, which rivals the amount paid at retail for top console and PC games.

Now, let’s look at the amount of total revenue generated per price bucket.  Scanning this column, we see the amount of revenue generated per price bucket is flipped in comparison to the price points at which the bulk of transactions occur.  On the low end, we’re “packing sardines;” that is, accumulating a lot of small transactions.  While the under $10 bucket delivers about two-thirds of the transactions, it only accounts for about one third of the dollars.  On the other end of the spectrum, at the “over $20” spend-level, we find the “whales.”  In fact, further breaking down the “over $20” category, 30% of the total revenue is generated from transaction sizes of over $50.  If you’re a game designer, your main take away is that very few transactions—and consumers who complete those transactions—make up the bulk of your revenue.  Therefore, your “meta-game” should be about whale hunting.

By the end of 2011, Flurry estimates that total U.S. iOS and Android game revenue will surpass $1 billion.  Digital distribution has already affected notable Media & Entertainment industries including film, newspaper, television, music and books.  The video game industry is no exception, with portable gaming already feeling the impact. The key to any business playing in this space, whether incumbent or challenger, will be to understand and command consumer engagement, and turn that engagement into revenue events.  The freemium business model on mobile, enabled by a device that is always with consumers, and always connected, is unlocking profound new ways to deliver value and extract revenue from consumers, and for far more than just $1 at a time.

Free-to-play Revenue Overtakes Premium Revenue in the App Store

  
  
  

To free, or not to free

Among the most common questions we get from game developers is whether the free-to-play (a.k.a. freemium) model makes sense for their next game. For teams that have always charged players up-front with a premium pricing model, the thought of distributing games for free makes them very uncomfortable.  I made the switch myself when I joined a free-to-play social games startup as a Studio Director in 2009, so I’m well aware of both the anxiety and the opportunity.

To best answer this question, I decided we should do it the Flurry way: with hard data.  To do so, we compared the revenue generated by pricing model, freemium vs. premium, among the top 100 grossing games in January and June of this year. Premium simply means charging for the download (e.g., $0.99). Freemium describes the free-to-play model, where the game is given away for free, and then the consumer can purchase virtual currency and/or virtual goods through in-app-purchases.  Tracking over 90,000 apps with its analytics service, Flurry can measure the amount of revenue generated per ranked position in the App Store top grossing category. The chart below compares the proportion of revenue generated by each model.

AppStore Top100GrossingGames Freemium vs Premium resized 600

Inspecting the chart, we see that free games already represented 39% of the games revenue generated by Apple’s App Store in January, but that number has since risen to 65% last month.  The traction of the freemium business model is undeniable and growing fast.  In fact, with games often occupying more than 75% of all top 100 grossing apps in the app store, it’s the single most dominating business model in the mobile apps industry today.

Unleashing the beast

In the old paid world of video games, success was measured by multiplying the number of units sold by the unit price, the traditional retail model. In the new world of digital games distribution, it’s all about how many players you can keep engaged with your free game, followed by how many compelling spending opportunities you can provide them.

When you make your game free and add in-app purchases, two powerful things can happen: first, more people will likely try your game since you’ve made the “ante” zero; and second, you will likely take more total money, since different players can now spend different amounts depending on their engagement and preferences.  It’s not unheard of for individual players to spend into the tens of thousands in a game they like. 

Flurry data shows that the number of people who spend money in a free game ranges from 0.5% to 6% depending on the quality of the game and its core mechanics. Although this means that more than 90% of players will not spend a single penny, it also means that players who love your game spend much more than the $0.99 you were considering charging for the app.  And since you gave away the game for free, your “heavy spender” group can be sizable.

Free-to-play is here to stay.  If you’re a game studio, you simply need to understand how to take advantage of this game-changing opportunity.  In future posts, I’ll cover strategies and tactics you can employ to make this powerful model work best for you.

Apple and Google Capture U.S. Video Game Market Share in 2010

  
  
  

Last year, Flurry reported that iPhone and iPod touch game sales surged from 2008 to 2009.  From a standing start, and in just one year, iPhone games captured 5% of the mature U.S. video game market.  A year later, we revisit how the increasing popularity of iOS (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Android games continue to increase their U.S. video game market share.  With an additional year of trend data, the magnitude of disruption is increasing, in particular within the portable gaming category.

For this year’s report, Flurry once again leverages publicly available market data in the news, released by companies such as the NPD Group (e.g., Gamasutra’s Behind the Numbers series).  We combine this data with our own estimates of game category revenues from iOS and Android devices.  Flurry Analytics, the company’s mobile application analytics service, tracks more than 12 billion anonymous, aggregated use sessions per month across more than 80,000 applications.  Of this, nearly 40% of all consumer app sessions are spent on games.

For 2010, we expanded our iPhone and iPod touch numbers to include revenue delivered by tablets and Android devices.  When running this analysis a year ago, the iPad had not yet launched and Android gaming revenue from 2008 and 2009 had not yet contributed enough revenue to meaningfully affect industry market share.  For the sake of a consistent year-over-year comparison in all other aspects of this analysis, we continue to exclude retail PC game revenue, and once again do not include online digital game sales.

Apple and Google Platforms Push Forward into Video Gaming

From 2009 to 2010, iOS and Android game sales increased from 5% to 8% market share within the U.S. video game market.  Specifically, we estimate that iOS and Android game revenue increased from $500 million in 2009 to more than $800 million in 2010.  Of this, the significant majority of revenue was generated by iPhone games.  And while we do not include retail PC game revenue in our total snapshot, which we estimate was $700 million in 2010, it’s worth noting that smartphone and tablet game revenue surpassed the U.S. PC game category for the first time in 2010.  

Flurry iOS Android USvideoGameShare 2010 Studying the chart above, console and smart-device games have increased at the expense of portable gaming.  Overall, total U.S. game revenue from 2009 to 2010 is relatively flat, totalling $10.4 billion and $10.7 billion, respectively.  However, while console game revenue increased slightly, from about $7.4 billion in 2009 to $7.8 billion in 2010, the combination of declines in portable gaming software and a jump in smart-device app sales has squeezed the portable game category down from 24% market share in 2009 to just 16% in 2010.  It’s clear that prolific intalled base gains by Apple and Android devices, low priced games (including a very robust free-to-play model enabled by in-app purchases) and seamless digital distribution to games on devices so near to consumers 24-hours-a-day, is driving potent industry-disruption. 

Over 2011, we expect to see continued and significant smart-device game growth fueled by the recent launch of iPad 2, iPhone coming into distribution on Verizon, the expected release of iPhone 5, a relentless expansion of Android devices by leading OEMs across all major U.S. carriers, and Google’s enablement of in-app purchase billing, a proven key driver in iOS game revenue.

U.S. Portable Gaming: Mario’s Burning Platform

Recently, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, passionately described a burning platform Nokia had itself set ablaze, largely as a result of its own strategic choices.  Allegorically, despite Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata’s stated concern that “these [mobile] platforms have no motivation to maintain the value of gaming” during his keynote at the most recent GDC conference, Nintendo may also be struggling with its own burning platform: Nintendo DS.  Let’s look at the numbers.

Flurry iOS Android USportableGameShare 2010

From 2009 to 2010, iOS and Android game sales have spiked significantly, resulting in nearly a doubling of their market share.  With both Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable shrinking in sales, while smart-device game sales simultaneously grew by more than 60%, iOS and Android games now represent more than one third of the portable game category.  The net effect is that the U.S. portable gaming category, as we define it, has declined from $2.7 billion in 2009 to roughly $2.4 billion in 2010.

Wedbush Morgan Securities video game analyst, Michael Pachter, points out that the “onslaught of $1 games is going to continue” and that "[Nintendo and Sony] are going to have to share the market with Apple and Android.”  Our numbers quantify just how much.  Further, as iOS and Android continue to change the paradigm of casual gaming, the battle between Nintendo against platforms such as iOS and Android will intensify.  Mario may indeed be standing on a burning platform.   

Mobile Social Gamers: The New Mass-Market Powerhouse

  
  
  

Hardcore Gamers are so 2007

As the growth of iOS and Android mobile devices continues to explode, there is a tectonic shift in the landscape of video gaming, a medium that continues to reach the most powerful spenders in the economy.  Not only are these emerging platforms attracting droves of existing gamers, but also spawning a new and highly engaged audience: the mass-market mobile casual gamer.  The era of marketing singularly to the 18 – 34 hardcore male gamer is officially over.

Given the sheer size of the video game industry, this is a watershed moment.  In January 2011, according to the NPD Group, 2010 worldwide video game revenue, excluding hardware, exceeded $15 billion.  Strikingly, console game sales were down by 5% in 2010 over 2009.  PC sales were up slightly by 3%, primarily due the release of the latest StarCraft installment by studio veteran Blizzard Entertainment.  As Flurry described in its analysis last year, hardcore gaming is facing competition from more mass-market-friendly gaming apps on mobile devices.  In particular, iOS is taking a bite out of portable platforms.

Below are two charts that demonstrate how age and gender demographics vary between the traditional gaming audience and mobile social gamers.

Flurry_MobileSocialGamer_vs_TraditionalGamer_byAge

Flurry Mobile Social vs Traditional Gamer, by Gender

Reviewing the charts, it’s clear that mobile social gaming is attracting a much stronger female base, as well as a younger average user.  Among mobile social gaming, there is also greater density in the 18 – 49 year old bracket, which indicates that iOS and Android devices are attracting users during their earning years versus, in particular, their teenage years, where they likely cannot afford more expensive mobile devices.


Mobile Bigger than Console, Portable… and TV

Just how big is the audience in this new era of smartphone mobile gaming?  Consider that Flurry has detected over 250 million unique iOS and Android devices in the market, and is detecting more than 750,000 new devices daily.  According to recent reports, this installed base is larger than the combined worldwide installed base of console industry leaders Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3, estimated at approximately 180 million units.  Likewise, iOS and Android devices command a larger installed base than the combination of portable game platforms Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, which recent estimates peg around 200 million devices worldwide.

Further sizing the segment of users that plays mobile social games, the audience exceeds that of any U.S. primetime television show, the best of which can top 20 million viewers on days airing new episodes.   Contrast this to the 26 million unique users Flurry already detects 365 days of the year, and who spend more than 25 minutes per day in social games.  On a broader scale, Flurry monitors more than 300 million user sessions across all games and apps.  A whopping 37% of these are from games.


The Consumer behind Social Games: a Marketer’s Dream Target Audience

The audience playing mobile social games is beginning to attract the attention of major advertisers. For this study, Flurry used a sample of over 60,000 social gamers on iOS and Android who self-reported age, gender and location.  For parts of this report, where we focus on the U.S. segment of the audience, we further crossed location information with United States zip codes to leverage U.S. Census Bureau data for deeper segmentation. 

Let’s start by looking at the concentration of mobile social gamers by international region.

Flurry Mobile Social Gamer by Region

The chart above shows that mobile social gamers live in more developed economies, with the highest concentration in North America, followed by Europe.  This hints strongly at a similar geographic footprint to iOS and Android penetration to date, with Asia beginning to grow more quickly as Android, in particular, finds increased distribution in this part of the world.

Next, we display a cross-tabulation of age and gender in a bar chart format for our worldwide sample.  This provides the opportunity to study how male and female usage varies across age ranges.

Flurry Mobile Social Gamer by, Age and Gender

From the chart above, it’s clear that female mobile social gamers are older than their male counterparts.   While males have a slight lead in usage in the 13 – 25 year old range, more women play between 26 – 44 years of age.  Additionally, referencing the earlier age comparison between traditional and mobile social gamers, the latter are younger, with an average age 28.2 vs. the traditional, more hardcore gamer, who is more often male with an average age of 34.   Just below, we display separate charts for age and for gender.

Flurry MobileSocialGamerReport bySex resized 600

Flurry Mobile Social Gamer by Age

The U.S. Mobile Social Gamer: Affluent and Educated

Studying the U.S. mobile social gamer, we note that she earns over 50% more than the average American, is more than twice as likely to have earned a college bachelor’s degree, and is more likely to be white or Asian.

Flurry Mobile Social Gamers, by Household Income

Flurry Mobile Social Gamer by Education

Flurry Mobile Social Gamer by Race

The video game industry is transitioning from an era of hardcore male gamers who have dominated the landscape, to more mass-market usage across mobile social games.  18 – 34 year old males are being supplanted as the most attractive segment to target by big brands and agencies.  The Mobile Social Gamer segment is highly engaged, younger, made up of more females, more educated and more affluent.  In terms of usage behavior, they use social games far more often than they watch prime-time television shows, and using for 25 minutes per day, are heavy users of this interactive content.  Mobile social gamers are the new mass-market powerhouse.

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Flurry is the leading mobile measurement and advertising platform that is optimizing mobile experiences for people everywhere. Flurry's industry-leading Analytics software sees activity in over 400,000 apps on more than 1.3 billion mobile devices worldwide, giving Flurry the deepest understanding of mobile consumer behavior. Flurry turns this insight into accelerated revenue and growth opportunities for app developers, and more effective mobile advertising solutions for brands and marketers. The company is venture backed and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, London, Chicago and Mumbai. 

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