I run my Tiger Shark into a bomb in Hungry Shark: Evolution and die a tragic aquatic death. I told myself this would be the last round, but I look over at my coin count and realize I’m on the verge of having enough credit to buy the recently unlocked Roboshark in the store.
I press play and head into another carnivorous eating spree.
From Angry Birds to Candy Crush, addictive mobile app games have embedded themselves in our culture as fun, mind-numbing entertainment to pass time.
As surprising as it may seem, these seemingly simple and inexpensive games are a billion-dollar industry poised to beat other popular forms of entertainment—including movies, music, and console video gaming.
Interactive Entertainment is Where It’s At
Video games already lead movies and music as far as revenue. In 2014, video games made a worldwide revenue of $101.62 billion. Compare this to the total worldwide revenues for film ($88.3 billion, which includes box office earnings, DVD sales, and cables viewings) and music ($47.4 billion).
The trend in favor of entertainment that’s interactive in nature is already here. The question is whether mobile apps can come to claim a majority piece of the gaming pie.
Well, according to the revenue figures, mobile games are no trifling matter. They made $25 billion in 2014 and are forecast to bring in $30.3 billion by the end of 2015. That’s already over half of what the music industry—which had a half-century headstart—is currently mustering.
Keep in mind, these are games that are usually free, with most money coming through in-app purchases (credit to continue playing, upgrades, etc.). When they do require a purchase, they normally cost no more than a couple dollars, as opposed to your average new console game title, which will put you back 50 bucks.
To get a clearer idea of the money-making potential of mobile app games, here are some of the most popular free titles and how much they earn per day.
- Farm Heroes Saga-$243,270 per day
- Game of War: Fire Age–$650,300 per day
- Kim Kardashian Hollywood–$700,00 per day
- Candy Crush Saga–$1 million per day
- Clash of Clans–$1.5 million per day
Again, all of the above games use “freemium” models. Users can play them indefinitely without ever paying a dime, as many do. The trick is in making the game so enticing that players are willing to pull out the credit card in order to progress more rapidly than they could through regular gameplay.
Clash of Clans, for instance, makes players desperate to earn more gems, which allow them to more effectively complete the tasks necessary to win the digital tribal warfare. The biggest purchase available is a collection of gems for $99.99. While most people only spend this amount of money occasionally or over time, big time gamers like Jorge Yao admit to spending over $2,000 a month on in-app purchases.
What Makes Mobile Games so Appealing?
What is it about app games that’s propelling their profitability? Several factors make them popular with smartphone users of all backgrounds. These days you can do everything on your mobile, even apply for title loans.
Portability: With app games, you’re not tied to your home gaming console. You can pass the time with Angry Birds while at the doctor’s office or during your lunch break.
No New Equipment (Or Equipment Learning Curve): There’s no need to go out and buy an expensive set of video game equipment. While smartphones are definitely a big investment, they’re useful for all your non-gaming activities like calling, texting, browsing the web, listening to music, and storing work files.
Affordability: Why pay half a c-note when for free (or a few dollars at most) you can have just as good a game-playing time?
Simplicity: For the most part, app games are easy to figure out, employing simple finger movements like taps and swipes. This appeals to busy people who don’t want to take the time becoming an expert at an intricate video game just to avoid getting killed in level one.
These traits have contributed to a lot of folks taking up smart phone gaming as a past-time who would otherwise never pick up a game controller (including my mom and grandparents).
Mobile Gaming in the Future
As the above projections indicate, app games are on the rise, and all signs point to the continuation of this trend, especially as better graphics and capabilities make for more intriguing gameplay.
Now this isn’t to say that traditional console gaming is going out the window. On the contrary, the continual improvement of smartphone technology means that there will probably be more merging of console and mobile games.
Nintendo has already released Super Mario for mobile. Game makers may decide to tap into the money-making potential of this strategy and release mobile versions of their games along with the console version.
For this to work, these games would have to be crafted specifically for mobile in order to provide a convenient playing experience.
Whatever the details look like, one thing is for sure—app games are here to stay as long as we remain dependent on our mobile devices. And they’re going to continue bringing in the bucks. Who said video games were a waste of time?