Mobile gaming revenue to grow to £3.9 billion

Worldwide mobile gaming end-user revenue is forecast to surpass £3.9 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2010, a 19% increase from 2009 revenue of £3.28 billion ($4.7 billion), according to Gartner. The market will continue to see steady growth through 2014, when the market is projected to reach £7.94 billion ($11.4 billion).

“The hype around mobile application stores has opened this market up to numerous publishers and developers — further expanding revenue potential and competition in this industry,” said Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Although we expect most mobile gamers to continue to gravitate toward ‘free’ games, we do not expect the ad-supported model to take off within the next three years — despite the success we have seen with this approach in the Japanese market.”

Gartner estimates 70% to 80% of all mobile consumer applications downloaded are mobile games. Moreover, 60% to 70% of these downloaded games are “free.” This trend is expected to continue for the next two to three years.

Other factors that are boosting the global popularity of mobile gaming include the increasing accessibility of mobile games in emerging markets, where alternative gaming media are limited. The growing availability of micropayments for mobile gamers attracts users previously wary of investing larger amounts of money upfront to try out a game and also attracts groups whose disposable income is limited.

Improved user interfaces are a top priority for handset vendors as a competitive differentiator. A growing number of devices are implementing touchscreens and gesture, and enhanced qwerty keyboards will also improve the end-user experience. Furthermore, an increasing number of games are taking advantage of existing device features, such as camera, GPS and accelerometers, to enhance game play.