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The mobile gaming market is expected to generate $81.6bn by 2016 and as smartphone technology continues to evolve, it looks to be a trend that’s going to gain even more momentum over the coming years. In a recent report market intelligence firm Juniper projects that 64.1 billion gaming apps will be downloaded to mobile phones and tablet devices by 2017, more than three times the figures recorded for 2012. Juniper also predicts that, as long as mobile software and hardware becomes more advanced, smartphones and tablets will soon be the primary screen for the gaming world. It is also expected to become even easier for developers to create more sophisticated apps for playing on the move.

Making an impact

Over the last few years more traditional gamers have argued that mobile gaming will never be able to compete with the experience of playing on a console or PC. But more and more people are now purchasing gaming apps than any other genre, with 64% accessing their favourite games every daily.

While this doesn’t suggest that the traditional console market is nearing its demise, there’s no doubt that mobiles are starting to have an impact on the popularity of console gaming. This was recently highlighted after Nintendo reduced its 2013 forecast for 3DS sales by 14%.

Newzoo, a market research firm for the games industry, has predicted that the number of mobile gamers worldwide will rise from 1.21 billion to 1.55 billion this year alone. This figure will then continue to grow at an average annual rate of 19% for smartphones and 48% for tablets.

Trends in mobile gaming

There are many factors that have contributed to the boom of the mobile gaming industry – here we take a look at some of the most influential.

Free downloads

While gamers are happy to splash out on the latest console or PC games, when it comes to mobile apps users are more reluctant to part with their cash. Just over 50% are paying for mobile games, with the majority of purchases coming from those upgrading their app from a free trial.

It’s actually surprisingly cheap for developers to create free games like Draw Something, Candy Crush and Angry Birds. Each of their success stories highlight just how quickly apps can take off and become a known name across the globe.

When it comes to making a profit developers look to in-app purchases and selling advertising space to external companies.

For many, spending 59p for an extra life is nothing if it gets them closer to completing the game. And, with such a large volume of people having downloaded these games to date, it’s easy to understand how they’re producing so much money. In fact, the average user now spends $12.92 every month on virtual goods via free gaming apps.

Mobile games are also the perfect platform for advertisers – not only is it affordable, but it’s a way of reaching millions of people around the clock every day.

Rise of Mobile Multiplayer 

With superfast 4G services now rolling out across the country the possibilities of multiplayer games on mobile are steadily increasing. 4G technology features a much larger bandwidth than the existing 3G technology many of us use today, allowing more data to pass through. This means mobile games that allow you to connect with fellow gamers across the world, while you’re on the move, is easier, quicker and stutter-free.

Users with 4G-enabled handsets will have access to a greater number of multiplayer options, and thanks to a range of handset offers including various iPhone 5 deals it’s even easier for users to find something that suits their needs and their wallet.

Something for everyone

According to Flurry analytics, the average mobile gamer is 28-years-old, but app developers are increasingly looking to target a much younger demographic. More children than ever now have access to smartphones and a study by comparison site reveals that the average age of children owning a handset is just seven and a half. While many of the games created for this audience have a strong educational focus, others are simply there to entertain. As more youngsters turn to technology for school, work and play the number of these types of games is only going to continue to soar.

Winning formula

The mobile gaming industry is already hugely diverse, allowing all types of gamer to get in on the action for little or no cost at all. As smartphone users crave the ability to do more on the move, mobile gaming is just one area that’s going to benefit, while no doubt bolstering profits for manufacturers and app developers alike.

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