Social and Mobile gaming continuing decline

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Remember when Facebook games were killing “real gaming” and mobile was going to take over the world? Well, Zynga has zyngone, and even King isn’t on top anymore. People are still spending on digital games, but the social and mobile sectors are shrinking rapidly. Can Candy survive the Crush?

Data from SuperData has hit my inbox and gives the crazy news that mobile games show a decline for the fourth month in a row, dropping 6% month-over-month. SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, believes that this is a sign of market saturation; game publishers will have to change their strategies to be successful in the maturing mobile market.

With $245 million in total revenues in April, the US mobile games market is showing signs of saturation. Already publishers have had to step up their marketing efforts, as the cost of user acquisition continues to rise. Meanwhile the average monthly spend for a US mobile gamer, which was $1.07 in April, has held steady since the beginning of this year. And so the current market conditions force publishers of all sizes to–in addition to making great games of course!–also develop a suitable market strategy.

Most interesting, it appears that going global is the best approach these companies can take. Many Western publishers are pushing their titles into Latin America and Asia – King has partnered with Tencent to bring Candy Crush Saga to China while Asian giant Shanda has repeated its intention to launch hit Eastern games in the West. Of course, localization will be a big deal in this regard – games have to have an appeal, and be accessible, to alternative audiences.

As sad as I am to hear about a decline in any part of the gaming industry, it does make me a little glad to see that the movement towards social and mobile games is subsiding. People will still play all kinds of games on all kinds of devices. However, hopefully we will a mature mobile market offering better, deeper games that can appeal to all audiences without alienating more seasoned gamers with the free-to-play or pay-to-win monetization models.

Last Updated: May 15, 2014

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