The number of mobile (smartphone and tablets) regularly used for gaming topped one billion for the first time late in 2014, as the installed base of dedicated gaming handhelds declined “marginally”, according to a study by IDC and App Annie.
Gaming revenue continued to dominate mobile app stores, representing nearly three-quarters of total app spend in the iOS App Store in Q4 – while making up only about 30 per cent of downloads. For Google Play, games made up more than 90 per cent of app spend, and around 40 per cent of app downloads.
iOS continued to generate more direct spending on games than Google Play in 2014, although the Android store closed the gap significantly year-on-year. In the fourth quarter, Google Play game spend exceeded that of handheld game spend by a healthy margin, whereas in Q4 2013 handheld games were ahead.
Interestingly, IDC and App Annie said there “wasn’t great turnover at the apex of portable gaming last year”. Four of the top five grossing iOS titles in 2013 remained in the top five in 2014, with two from Supercell (Clash of Clans and Hay Day).
For Google Play and handheld games consoles, there was some greater variety: three of the top five were new in 2014.
Most of 2014’s top titles “supported fairly robust online multiplayer features and rather deep levelling-up and/or personalisation capabilities”.
“iOS game spending grew relatively quickly in Asia/Pacific in 2014, for example, and Google Play performed better in North America last year than in 2013. These shifts brought the app stores closer together from the standpoint of game spending by major region – and closer to the established regional distribution of spending on handheld games for devices like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Vita,” said Lewis Ward, director of gaming at IDC.