Report: Mobile Games Market "Stagnating"

Companies are snatching up game licenses, but the percentage of subscribers actually downloading games remains low

M:Metrics, a market research firm that specializes in measuring the audience for mobile media, has found that the market for downloaded mobile games is "stagnating," largely because of the game selection being offered, pricing and a general lack of interest.

Mobile games consumption across several territories has remained relatively constant and quite low. In March, M:Metrics' findings show that only 4.2 percent of U.K., 2.5 percent of German and 2.7 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers downloaded a game — a number so low that it's even beneath purchased wallpapers and screensavers on the content downloads list.

The findings also indicated that game downloads/purchases are often directly tied to handset purchases, and consequently "fluctuate in relation to the device sales cycle." Upwards of 30 percent of those who downloaded a game in March were first-time downloaders. "The rate at which new subscribers are being drawn into the market is relatively low, with between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent of mobile subscribers downloading their first mobile game in the month," stated M: Metrics. "The level of repeat purchase is between 20 percent and 30 percent of the universe of downloaded games players."

"This data shows that operators must do a better job at converting those that played a mobile game into a player of downloaded games," commented Seamus McAteer, chief product architect and senior analyst, M:Metrics. "There is no shortage of new titles being launched on operator portals, many offering innovative game play and superior production value, but these do not appear to be resonating with consumers. Subscribers that had played a downloaded title cite the pricing, lack of interest and selection as reasons they did not purchase another title in the month of March."

"Despite the growing selection of games on the operators' portals, consumers still are not finding games that appeal to them and are complaining that prices are too high," added Paul Goode, vice president, product development and senior analyst, M:Metrics. "Faster networks and devices with larger screens will help improve the discovery process, operators and games publishers must do a much better job of marketing and merchandising mobile gaming content."

Interestingly, M:Metrics' data also shows that men and women are equally predisposed to playing mobile games. However, the difference is that men are "far more likely" to actually download mobile titles. Currently, the 18-34 male demographic represents the largest audience for game downloads. This demo, according to M:Metrics, accounts for 35 percent of the U.S. market, 30 percent of the U.K. market and 33.7 percent of the German market. The arcade and puzzle genres were most popular in the U.S., followed by card, casino, retro arcade and strategy.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.