A new report from IDC and App Annie has found that the global portable game spending increased across all platforms between 4Q13 and 4Q14, with spending up more than 75 percent on Google Play, over 30 percent in the iOS App Store, and 5 percent on handheld game consoles (typified by Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Vita).
These growth rates include direct spending on digital and physical games but exclude all ad-related revenue.
Other key findings for 2014 include:
? The global installed base of smartphones and tablets that are regularly used for gaming topped one billion in late 2014 for the first time, while the installed base of handhelds declined marginally to approximately 175 million devices by the end of the year.
? iOS continued to generate more direct spending on games than Google Play in 2014, although Google Play closed the gap significantly compared to 2013; in 4Q14 Google Play game spend exceeded that of handheld game spend by a healthy margin (while handheld games generated more direct revenue than Google Play games in 4Q13).
? Gaming revenue continued to dominate mobile app stores, representing nearly three-quarters of total app spend in the iOS App Store in 4Q14 (and representing only about 30 percent of all app downloads) and was more than 90 percent of app spend on Google Play (and roughly 40 percent of app downloads) in the fourth quarter ?both higher spending shares than in 4Q13.
“2014 saw a convergence of spending shares when viewed on a regional basis. iOS game spending grew relatively quickly in Asia-Pacific in 2014, for example, and Google Play performed better in North America last year than in 2013,” said Lewis Ward, director of Gaming at IDC.
“These shifts brought the app stores closer together from the standpoint of game spending by major region ? and closer to the established regional distribution of spending on handheld games for devices like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Vita. This convergence trend implies that competition among portable game developers and publishers will remain fierce in 2015.”
“Games continued to make their presence felt in 2014 as more than 80 percent of combined iOS and Google Play consumer app spending in 4Q14 came from games,” said Bertrand Schmitt, CEO of App Annie.
“This is an increase over the already impressive share that games captured in 4Q13 and exemplifies their ability to increasingly engage and monetize across a broad spectrum of mobile device owners. With games accounting for over 90 percent of consumer spending on Google Play in the latter half of 2014, along with Android’s increasing popularity worldwide, we expect to see steady revenue growth for mobile gaming this year given the ample opportunity to leverage this expanding user base.”
Ironically, there wasn’t great turnover at the apex of portable gaming last year: four of the top five grossing games on iOS in 2013 remained in the top 5 in 2014. Of the top 5 grossing games on iOS in 2014, two of them were from the mobile gaming giant Supercell:
? Clash of Clans (Supercell)
? Candy Crush Saga (King)
? Puzzle & Dragons (GungHo Online)
? Game of War ? Fire Age (Machine Zone)
? Hay Day (Supercell)
Aside from slight shifts in order, the key difference between this list and the same top five list for all of 2013 is that Game of War ? Fire Age replaced Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
The top grossing game on Google Play in 2014 was Puzzle & Dragons and in the handheld market it was Pok?mon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (by Game Freak/Nintendo).
Three of the top five grossing titles in 2014 on both Google Play and handheld game console platforms were new top five grossing titles when compared to the same lists for 2013.
Most of 2014’s top grossing titles supported fairly robust online multiplayer features and rather deep leveling up and/or personalization capabilities and implying that more portable gaming sophistication is on tap for 2015.