Some 59 percent of mobile device owners have played a game on either their handset or tablet, compared with 52 percent in 2011, according to a survey commissioned by casual games company PopCap.
Of the mobile game user base, 44 percent have played at least one game in the last month, compared with 34 percent last year.
The company said that the biggest drivers for growth are the availability of more free games, users upgrading to a new phone with better gaming capabilities, and the purchase of tablet devices.
According to the company, new players represented 44 percent of the total, compared with 22 percent in 2009. It suggests that devices such as the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle “brought approximately 11 million new mobile gamers into the fold in the past 12 months.”
The poll said that almost half of all video game time is spent on mobile devices, with phones being the most commonly used gaming tool ahead of computers – at 33 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Dedicated consoles follow with 18 percent of the total, with tablets on 13 percent.
PopCap’s survey also found that frequency and playing time have both increased in the last twelve months. The number of people playing daily has increased to 45 percent from 35 percent, with 22 percent playing for more than three hours per week – compared with 14 percent in 2011.
The company notes that 73 percent of tablet gamers were not previously players on another device. Respondents who play only on a tablet spend 31 percent of their usage time on games, compared with 24 percent for smartphone-only consumers.
Dual mobile device owners are also more likely to play games daily – at 57 percent, compared with 41 percent of single terminal users. However, 40 percent of those who use both state that game play on their handset has declined, and shifted to a tablet.
Just over half (51 percent) of mobile gamers made related purchases in the past year. The single most popular option was upgrading a free game to a paid version, followed by shifting to a paid-for app from an ad-funded one.
Some US$4 out of every US$10 spent is on in-app purchases, and overall tablet-only gamers spend 1.5 times the amount of phone-only players.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who spend on games tend to be younger than 35 (48 percent), play multiple times per week (86 percent) and are likely to own a tablet (45 percent).
“Smartphone adoption continues apace and tablet adoption has added considerable fuel to the fire. Even more important, consumers are embracing the shift toward freemium games and other add-on game content purchases, driving the dramatic and rapid shift in the forms of monetisation being used by developers and publishers,” said Dennis Ryan, VP of worldwide publishing for PopCap.
The figures are based on data from Information Solutions Group, which conducted 2,301 online surveys in the US and UK.