Case Study: mobile gaming

Among the most lucrative types of mobile app are games. UK consumers spent £280m on mobile gaming in 2010, according to research company Newzoo’s National Gaming Survey, and that figure is forecast to hit £321m by 2012.

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Of those who download game apps in the UK, 35% use Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and 9% for the iPad, 24% use Android’s Market and 16%use BlackBerry’s App World.

Yet, according to Rumbi Pfende, UK country manager of game developer Real Games, which commissioned Newzoo’s report, Apple is severely restricting the ability of brands and game developers to make money through in-game advertising.

She explains: “You can’t do product placement or some of the stuff that goes on in social gaming, where in a ’freemium’ game you might handle a can of Coke or win points. You can’t have that points system with Apple, but you can on social platforms or other mobile platforms. That is an issue for me. From a money-making perspective, you are forced to look at other platforms.”

Despite the desire to explore competitors, Pfende acknowledges that these are themselves limited by their lower market penetration. Nonetheless, she points out the success of GetJar, the independent site through which consumers can download game apps to any mobile platform. It was the site originally used to distribute the Android version of the Angry Birds app, a game that has now been downloaded more than 250 million times across all its versions.

Games, like other kinds of app, are likely to see an evolution with the arrival of tablet computers. Indeed, Pfende argues that the popularity of game apps is driving the uptake of new mobile devices, rather than vice-versa.

She suggests that marketers from both brands and gaming companies look to this new area to find the future. “Mobile phones have taken it as far as it can go. You cannot get any bigger without giving them other functions. Tablets are definitely going to be the way for gaming.”

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