Mobile gaming market to top $800 million in 2010

Revenues from mobile gaming will reach nearly $850 million this year, with the vast majority coming from paid downloads, according to a new report from eMarketer. By 2014, mobile gaming revenues are expected to top $1.5 billion.

Over the same period, ad support will nearly double, accounting for 12.3 % of mobile gaming revenues in 2014, up from 12.3% this year.

That makes for a sizeable mobile gaming market, but mobile still makes up only a small amount of all gaming revenues. According to TNS and Newzoo, only 4% of US video game revenues came from mobile.

Casual gaming on the mobile platform has driven adoption of mobile games to more than a quarter of mobile subscribers and more than one in five members of the US population, eMarketer estimates.

This year, 64 million people will play mobile games at least monthly, a number that will rise to 94.9 million by 2014. eMarketer’s estimates exclude mobile users who play preinstalled games, which offer publishers decent brand exposure but less in the way of monetisation opportunities.

In another key trend, Apple’s iOS continues to grow in importance as a gaming platform. According to Credit Suisse, both Android and iPhone owners spend roughly double the amount of time playing games on their devices as the average mobile phone user. Morgan Stanley estimates that Apple has already become the second-largest handheld gaming platform in terms of installed base and is set to surpass global leader Nintendo by the end of 2011.

“In mobile gaming, Apple is the force to be reckoned with,” said Mr. Elkin. “The company understands the crossover potential between mobile and console gaming and likewise has demonstrated how seriously it intends to do battle with console giants Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft’s Xbox.”