The global tablet game revenue is expected to hit $3.1 billion by 2014, and is expected to make up a third of all mobile game revenue by 2016 when the total spent on mobile games is expected to be $18.3 billion, according to a recent report from Juniper Research, the analysis firm.
Tablet game revenue stood at $491 million for 2011, by Juniper’s estimates, so the prediction it will be more than six times that in three years is quite extraordinary and changes the very landscape of social gaming.
Users will be more inclined to purchase virtual goods due to the screen size and video capabilities of tablets, especially considering that screen capabilities are among the new iPad’s biggest selling points. Games typically require console buttons on the screen to control, a problem for smartphones but not tablets due to screen size.
The report also notes that tablets tend to be more expensive, around the $500 range or so, and therefore users tend to have more disposable income to spend on virtual goods and game downloads. The report predicted that mobile game revenues for smartphones will halve in the next five years.
“The tablet is the perfect device for playing mobile games – the screens are large enough for the user to see the action, no matter how big their hands are,” said Charlotte Miller, the author of the study. “Tablet owners also tend to have a larger disposable income, as tablets are often bought outright rather than subsidized by operators. Higher user satisfaction with games and a bigger wallet mean that tablet games look to be highly lucrative.”
The report also predicted that social and media games will account for the bulk of mobile game downloads due to the popularity of social games.
In terms of mobile games overall, users will gradually spend more on virtual goods as the freemium model becomes more accepted and understood. Users will increasingly expect entertainment that includes immersive game play as well.
To meet the trends, game developers will increasingly develop games on the freemium model as more users download games and increase their social network for gaming, the report predicted. Paying for virtual goods will help to circumvent piracy issues, as the game itself is free while extra features make up the cash cow, the report noted.
“An increasing number of games developers are finding the in-game purchase model attractive simply because it provides easy answers,” Miller stated. “Their piracy rate will drop and the game will see more downloads. However, while some games may generate significant revenues from in-game items, the model doesn’t work with all games and developers have to tread a fine line between encouraging purchases and appearing to be exploitative.”