July 6, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The latest round of Nielsen data shows that Android’s present has, and its future will have, a healthy serving of games.
Nielsen surveyed smartphone users in the United States and found that gaming is a very popular past time on all of the major smartphone operating systems. Not surprisingly, RIM’s BlackBerry, which appeals to predominantly business-oriented audience, had the lowest gaming activity. Apple’s iOS had the highest activity thanks to its massive popularity among young people on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Android users spent an average of 9.3 hours per month playing games on their phones. That was higher than Windows Phone 7 (4.3 hours), but lower than iOS (14.7). The easy conclusion to draw is that aside from iOS having a higher number of young users with the time and desire to play mobile games more often, it has a much larger pool of games to keep those users entertained. There’s no question that Apple is the industry-leader for smartphone gaminig; it has the most games, the most popular games, and is the most lucrative.
However, there’s still plenty of room for developers to feed the hunger for quality games and make money.
Among respondents who downloaded apps in the past 30 days, Games were the most frequently used category (64 percent), surpassing social networking (56 percent) and entertainment (34 percent). That shows there’s a strong gaming culture on mobile devices, and – more encouraging for developers – there’s a willingness to pay for it. A whopping 93 percent of respondents said they are willing to pay for games, the highest among all categories.
Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and more recently Cut the Rope are among the casual gaming titles that were iOS first and were embraced by Android users. Meanwhile Gameloft, which previously shunned the Android Market, has sold somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 copies of its three latest games based on download totals in the Android Market listings. (Google lists only estimates.)
The prevailing wisdom has long been that Android users are too cheap to pay for apps, and a developer’s only chance of making money is through ads or donations. Nielsen’s data seems to suggest that users can make money through direct sales of their wares. People want games and people are willing to pay for games. Through in the revenues that can be gained from in-app purchases for additional levels or upgrades and the right idea could prove very rewarding to its creator.