PC, Mobile Games Surge as Frugal Seek Freebies

January 30, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Technology | Telecom | Youth & Gen X

The Online Gaming site category in the US has grown 27% during the past year to 86 million visitors in December 2008, while the total time spent playing PC-based online games has jumped 42%, according to an analysis of Americans’ usage of online game sites by comScore, Inc.

comScore’s analysis also revealed that Americans’ total share of internet time spent playing online games grew from 3.7% in December 2007 to 4.9% in December 2008.

Top Online Game Sites

Yahoo! Games ranked as the most-visited site in the category with 19.5 million visitors (up 20%), followed by EA Online with 15.4 million visitors (up 21%), and Disney Games with 13.4 million visitors (up 13%). The tenth most visited site, Spil Games, saw traffic surge 269% to 6.7 million visitors.

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“It appears that online, ad-supported gaming is one of the activities that has benefited during this economic downturn,” said Edward Hunter, comScore director of gaming solutions. “Not only have consumers turned to outlets such as gaming to take their minds off the economy, but as they curtail their discretionary gaming-related purchases they are turning to free alternatives.”

Online Gaming Attracts Display Ads

Despite a challenging online display advertising market, trends look positive for online gaming, comScore said. From November 2007 to November 2008, the total number of display ad views in the category grew 29% to 8.6 billion. The increase in display ad exposures is a result of the increasing number of visitors to the category (up 30%), while the average person’s frequency of exposure has remained relatively constant at 127 ad views per person. Another positive trend appears to be that number of display ads per page view – a measure of “ad clutter” – has declined 17%.

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“The growth in display ads in the Online Gaming category not only underscores the assertion that gamers are increasingly accepting of ad-supported games, but also that the advertising community is recognizing the value of this highly engaged audience,” said Hunter. “It is also likely that the advertising agency community will begin to demand more evaluations of campaign effectiveness in this space as spend and impressions continue to rise.”

Smartphones Give Mobile Gaming Added Boost

In related news, comScore also reports that mobile gaming is on the rise as smartphones increase the reach of online games. The number of mobile game downloaders grew 17% from November 2007 to November 2008, when when 8.5 million people – or 3.8% of mobile subscribers – downloaded a game to their mobile device.

Additionally, more than one-third (34%) of mobile game downloaders in November used a smartphone to download their games, compared with just 10% in 2007.

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“The rapid growth in smartphone adoption in the US has provided a boost for mobile gaming,” said Mark Donovan, senior analyst, comScore. “Last year, not one smartphone appeared in the top 10 devices used for mobile downloads. This year, six out of 10 are smartphones, excluding devices with smartphone-like functionality, such as the Instinct and Voyager, which also make appearances.”

The iPhone and BlackBerry Curve have replaced the RAZR and low-end flip phones as the most popular gaming platforms, according to comScore. The number of smartphone owners downloading a game nearly tripled, while dipping 14% among owners of feature phones. iPhone owners accounted for 14% of mobile game downloaders in November, with 32.4%of all iPhone users reporting they downloaded a game in the month, compared with a market average of 3.8%.


“As the mobile phone has evolved into a better platform for both playing and merchandising games, the games being offered have also been improved, drawing in a broader user base,” added Donovan. “Over the past year, we have seen mobile gaming expand into a broadening demographic, with strongest growth among teens, who previously eschewed their mobile device in favor of handheld gaming devices, and those 35 and older.”

Mobile Content Posts Strong Growth
In addition to video game statistics, comScore M:Metrics also announced the results of its Mobile Benchmark Study. With the exception of ringtone purchases, which fell 1.1% from October to November, all mobile content categories posted strong growth, most notably downloaded application usage and access to social networking. Following are? results from the November 2008 Mobile Benchmark Study:

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