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Report: 23% of app gamers play exclusively on smartphones, tablets

NPD Group report shows the opportunities around paid games and in-app purchases
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Gamers are ditching consoles in favor of their smartphones faster than ever before, according to the latest research from NPD Group.

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Gamers are ditching consoles in favor of their smartphones.

Almost a quarter of all so-called "app gamers" use phones and tablets exclusively, the firm said in its Mobile Gaming 2012 report, with nearly half reporting that they played more mobile games this year compared to last. While the free nature of many mobile games is an obvious incentive for players, consumers are not necessarily against business models that come with a price tag for the user. In fact, 30 percent of the NPD Group's survey sample said they had either upgraded to a paid version of their favorite mobile game or had made an in-app purchase.

That being said, the price tag for paid games has to remain fairly low. According to the NPD Group, $3 was the average cost at which most app gamers said they felt would justify the cost of actually paying for a game. There are also differences between smartphone and tablet app gamers from a premium game perspective. For example, tablet gamers are more likely to have upgraded to a paid version or made an in-app purchase than a smartphone gamer, which may indicate a larger screen size is more associated with a premium-style gaming experience.

"Not surprisingly, as gaming frequency increases, so does the likelihood of having made a purchase or upgrade," NPD said. "Mobile game developers and publishers need to be able to maximize their opportunities by identifying ways to increase the number of gamers willing to upgrade their free apps or pay for in-app purchases."

Developers should think about the age of their target customers as well when they are considering purchasing strategies. Although the NPD Group surveyed close to 6,000 people for its Mobile Gaming Report, the sample size included respondents as young as two years old. The company noted that for any respondent under the age of 16, parents acted as a surrogate respondent and helped children complete the survey as necessary. Parents, obviously, will have a major impact on whether younger app gamers are able to upgrade to paid versions or make in-app purchases.

If developers really want to make money, however, the NPD Group suggests that moving gamers from smartphones and tablets to consoles may be the best answer, where the monetization opportunities are significantly higher.

For more:
- read the full Mobile Gaming 2012 report 
- see this NPD release

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