Mobile gaming has become a part of our everyday lives faster than we thought possible. When Apple launched the iPhone, re-defining mobile gaming with one revolutionary design, nobody thought smartphones games had such huge potential. Today, in turn, mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing industries online. What makes it the most appealing is that it doesn’t even require players to buy the games, like in the case of PC / Console titles, but offers them free, with the option to purchase premium content and various other perks for real money.
Of course, the profitability of games is largely dependent on the platform they are available on, and the part of the world where they are most used. Apple Store is apparently the most open about the revenues generated by the games available through it. The other two leading app stores, Play Store and Windows Phone Store, are only giving out general information with no specifics on amounts. So, we will just use Apple’s data from the US – but the situation is similar in most other territories and on most other platforms as well.
The top grossing mobile apps are definitely games
Google, Microsoft and Apple agree that the top grossing apps on either platform are games.
On iOS, the top grossing mobile game in May was Game of War – Fire Age, with an average daily revenue of over $1.3 million, followed by titles like Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, and Boom Beach. The top 10 has four social casino apps as well: DoubleDown Casino, Big Fish Casino, Slotomania and GSN Casino, along with Marvel’s Contest of Champions, that came in ninth.
The list of top grossing Android apps is similar, with the top 10 being reserved for games. Clash of Clans is at the top of the list, followed by titles like Clash of Kings, Empire: Four Kingdoms, Candy Crush Saga, Heartstone, Pirate Kings, Castle Clash and several others.
No social casinos in Android’s top 10? How come?
Apple’s list of top grossing games is compiled based on data collected mostly in the US, where the iPhone has a huge market share compared to the rest of the world. No wonder social casinos are so popular here – citizens don’t have access to real money gaming solutions due to legal constrains.
In Europe, players can access their favorite casino games on their mobile devices without too many restrictions. Besides, Google has quite a restrictive policy on real money gambling apps, this is why mobile casino software vendors usually prefer to offer their games in a browser-run version instead.
Among the top mobile casino software vendors we will find European companies only.
The developer with the largest mobile casino game library is Isle of Man based Microgaming. The company is one of the oldest in the industry, as well, having launched the first fully functional online casino in the mid-1990s. Microgaming provides its players with over 100 casino titles to play on the go. Its games are not restricted to Europe, though. They are available through mobile casinos at the Royal Vegas mobile casino and several others, accepting players from all countries where mobile casino gambling is regulated instead of forbidden. The games at the Royal Vegas are also available for free play for players who don’t wish to spend real money on playing them. The casino offers its players “demo funds” or “fun money” to play with, and experience the same gameplay as they would for real money. Given the casual nature of casino games, this is an advantage for players – they don’t have to buy credits in-app to keep playing, all they need to do is refresh and play on.
Another hugely successful mobile casino vendor from Europe is Swedish developer NetEnt. Based in Stockholm, and licensed by the MGA, NetEnt provides a huge variety of online gaming outlets with quality casino games, running in browsers across all platforms. The company has recently signed a deal with a major New Jersey online gaming operation, and awaits its license from the state’s regulator, so its games might soon become available for the first time in the United States as well.
What makes mobile games profitable?
After a good look at the list of its top grossing games on Windows Phone, Microsoft has concluded that almost 90% of the games generating the most revenue are free to play, with optional in-app purchases offered to their players. Apparently users prefer to get the games themselves free of charge, and see an occasional ad inside them, rather than paying for an ad-free version. The same users appear to be inclined to purchase premium features – exclusive content, power-ups and similar items – inside the game.
The future of mobile gaming
Mobile gaming is expected to expand in the coming years, surpassing the market value of desktop and console games. People already spend almost half of their game time on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. With the mobile devices becoming even more powerful, offering “console grade graphics” to their users, they will soon become the device of choice for casual gamers all over the world.