The stickiness of social and mobile gaming is considerable. A survey from game development studio Arkadium in Q2 2013 found that more than half of adult US gamers played more than three Facebook games per week, and just fewer than half played at least that many mobile games. Given that eMarketer estimates there will be 80.3 million social network users playing games at least once per month in 2013, and 125.9 million mobile phone gamers doing the same—with significant crossover between the two groups—that is a lot of people devoting significant time to gaming.
Monetization remains a challenge though, as many of these games are free. US internet users are still paying for some digital gaming content, however. In an April 2013 study from payments consultancy WorldPay, more than one-quarter of US web users reported having purchased through an app store a game that could be played via any device, 16% had purchased an online game via the web and 15% had purchased a game to play with friends via social media.
Still, even though games purchased via apps were the most popular type of digital game to buy, they were also the cheapest. WorldPay found that gaming apps averaged $6.84 per transaction, lower than any other paid video game price.
Instead, in-app purchases are where many casual and mobile game developers generate a bulk of revenue. The Arkadium study found that a fair share of gamers do shell out for in-game purchases—43% of gamers said they’d made an in-game purchase in a mobile game, and 38% had made such a purchase in a Facebook game.
Mobile and social gamers are willing to pay up, but the price has to be right—and they may already need to be hooked.
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