According to Juniper Research, the cellphone gaming market will increase from about $3 billion today to over $17 billion by 2011. Just this year alone, more than one billion cellphones are expected to sell. While traditional gamers are mostly kids or men in their 20s (though women gamers and older gamers are on the rise), cellphone games have a high likelihood of being played by anyone who has a cellphone. The kid or twenty-something stereotype need not apply.
In fact, research from analyst firm M:Metrics shows that the fastest growth in cellphone gaming is coming from women between 18 and 24, which helps explain the following higher-than-expected number: 45% of all games for cellphones are downloaded by women.
Cellphone games are generally much simpler when compared to computer or console games. They’re often used as a way to pass time when traveling on a bus or train. Not surprisingly, companies like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft want in on this high growth market. Cellphone gaming is so popular that it was actually a larger market than console games in terms of units shipped for 2007.
Here’s what Javier Ferreira, vice president for Europe at EA Games, had to say about cellphone gaming:
“The beauty of the mobile device is that everybody has one and has the potential to become a gamer.” He then goes on to admit that, “There is still a significant gap between the willingness to play and the willingness to pay.”
This is where advertising jumps in as an alternative. Greystripe, a cellphone advertising company, explained that over 1.4 million games were downloaded from its GameJump portal in just four months by consumers apparently “happy to watch advertisements on their phones in return for free games.”
Is this really the case? Are free cellphone games worth the advertising premium? It’s difficult to say; perhaps I’ll be convinced if Ferreira is correct that, “In the next few years there will be better handsets with better graphics allowing a more console-like experience.”
For more details on this topic, check out this story in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).