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Mobile gaming expected to exceed $16B by 2016: ABI Research

According to ABI, mobile games reach a wider demographic than desktop and console games. To compare, mobile gaming revenue for 2011 is expected to be less than $5 billion.

“In general, mobile gaming will be a wider form of mass entertainment in the next five years,” said Aapo Markkanen, London-based senior analyst at ABI Research.

Different gamers
The ABI study found that mobile games appeal to a larger number of consumers because of the leisure habits of mobile users.

More than 50 percent of participants in the study under the age of 40 played games on their handsets. For consumers surveyed over the age of 40, 20 percent said they used mobile games, which the study credits to smartphone ownership rates.

“Mobile games appeal to such a variety of different people because mobile devices are things that people have on them already,” Mr. Markkanen said.

“As long as consumers own smartphones they tend to show interest in mobile games, regardless of age and gender,” he said.

“A typical mobile gamer might listen to music, watch television and do other leisure activities while playing, which doesn’t take away from the gaming experience on mobile.”

The wider demographics of the game show that not only is mobile becoming more important in the gaming industry, games and applications are also factors in consumers engaging more with their mobile devices.

In particular, Mr. Markkanen cites Angry Birds as an example of a gaming that understands mobile users because it is simple and does not require consumers to think deeply about the game.

In-app growth
Additionally, the study points to the amount of revenue driven from in-app purchases as a major area of growth.

Specifically, advertisers should be looking for ways to plug their brands into mobile games, per the study.

The study says that in-app payments will account for one-third of mobile gaming revenue in 2011. But by 2016, in-app payments will increase to almost one-half of revenue.

Mr. Markkanen says the biggest growth in mobile gaming over the next five years will come from augmented reality games.

“You can take advantage of camera, GPS and location-based services already equipped in smartphones to make games more engaging in the future,” Mr. Markkanen said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York