Mobile gaming has become one of the fastest routes to surging revenues, as demonstrated by the success of firms such as Rovio and one-hit wonders like Flappy Bird, which reportedly made $50,000 a day through advertising alone. Although many fail, cracking the addiction code for mobile gamers is perhaps the least capital intensive route to mainstream adoption, even if the consumer love affair with the product is brief and fleeting. So what markets dominate the world’s screen-tapping scene?
Japan: Kawaii still sells
Perhaps a surprise to many is that the land of the samurai is behind the US, yet much higher mobile broadband penetration and smartphone adoption, as well as a culture of gaming that spans across all ages, drive the world’s largest m-gaming landscape. The domestic scene remains largely dominated by Japanese developers, and the culture of “kawaii” still goes a long way to attracting purchases. Trade sources valued the local m-gaming market at around $1.3 billion in 2013.
US: Tech heavyweight but not global m-gaming leader
Home to Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, the US has a stronghold on the delivery of gaming to the masses. Interestingly, some of the biggest hits of the past year have come outside the usually innovative US tech scene, with European and Asian developers more canny in the branding and physics of games. However, as heavyweights such as Valve and Blizzard begin to gradually shift resources to mobile platforms, this is likely to change. Trade sources valued the local m-gaming market at around $1.1 billion in 2013.
South Korea: Asia’s Gaming-Mad Nation Punches Above its Weight
Despite its much smaller size, South Korea is still some way ahead of China in m-gaming uptake, as the country has adopted a Japanese model of superb ICT infrastructure and almost total user connectivity. With gaming practically a national sport, the culture’s DNA lends itself well to entertainment via mobile platforms. Trade sources valued the local m-gaming market at around 700 million in 2013.
UK: Europe’s Top Dog
Despite the late launch of 4G services, the UK’s strong home broadband segment and widespread accessibility to Wi-Fi services has driven a healthy m-gaming market. The country remains the European leader in mobile media usage, despite more innovative developers in markets such as France and Finland. Gaming start-ups are nonetheless beginning to surface in the UK and the landscape could benefit from greater mobile participation by large firms such as Edinburgh-based Rockstar North. Trade sources valued the local m-gaming market at around 670 million in 2013.
Russia: Emerging Market Pioneer
The largest emerging market on the list, Russia has experienced something of an m-gaming craze in recent years, driven by a vibrant telecoms consumer market. A highly IT-savvy youth is the predominant user of gaming platforms and the local tech scene is blossoming into a major player globally. ZeptoLab is the spearhead of a Skolkovo-inspired group of start-ups. Trade sources value the local m-gaming market at around 550 million in 2013.