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This year, eMarketer estimates, nearly 126 million people in the US will play a game on their mobile phone at least once a month. That compares to 96.6 million who will play casual games online, 80.3 million who will play games on social media sites and just 43.3 million who will play online console games. These groups are not mutually exclusive—many online console gamers will also play mobile games, and social gamers may play online casual or mobile games—but mobile is clearly the largest single category of the bunch.
Much of the growth is thanks to smartphones, where most mobile gaming takes place. eMarketer estimates 103.6 million smartphone users will play games at least monthly this year, up 23.7% over 2012. While that’s a sharp decrease in growth, double-digit increases are expected to continue through 2016, when more than eight in 10 smartphone users will play mobile games. That will represent nearly half the total population of the US.
Feature phones account for significantly less mobile gaming: Just 17.7% of all mobile phone gamers this year will have a feature phone. Feature phones are expected to lose more share each year as smartphones take over the mobile gaming space.
eMarketer bases its estimates of internet gaming usage on the analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, historical trends, company-specific data, and demographic and socioeconomic factors.
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