Social gaming is seeing unprecedented growth in the United States and continuing to move towards monetizing content. Figures released on the industry report the so-called “casual games market” is worth $4.5billion and goes to show why a social gaming strategy is something gambling industry firms need to think about. A trend report by Newzoo shows 87% of the 145million strong US gaming population plays these games. Whether it be on a social network or an external website the sector is clearly experiencing a boom – not just on Facebook either.
“An amazing 76 percent to 93 percent of all gamers play on gaming sites outside of Facebook,” said Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo. “Combined they take 36 percent of all time spent on games globally. These online game destinations are often overlooked by press and market analysts who dedicate their attention to massively multiplayer online (MMO), mobile and social gaming.”
What most of the companies involved are trying to do is pure and simple – make a shed load of cash. Gamers are spending via micro-transactions in free-to-play games with the report stating that 28 US casual gamers are paying to play. This is eclipsed by the 46% of Asian players paying for casual gaming.
Warman added: “Despite claims that games on social networks show limited growth potential, Facebook and local social networks in European, Asian and emerging markets remain essential to any game company’s strategy, simply because the majority of people spends a large amount of his or her online time here. That’s even more true in emerging and Asian markets, where social networks often are the primary entry to the web for consumers. I was therefore not surprised to see that social games monetize relatively well in these younger markets compared to the West, at least in terms of share of people spending money.”
Zynga’s situation is a prime example of the direction companies are going. The home of free-play poker on Facebook have been looking at partnerships with casino business firms for some time in the hope of one day turning the free-play product into one making sacks full o’ cash. It moved a step further towards the online gambling industry with the launch of a standalone site meaning no Facebook approval is required – something that may end up being pivotal.
The social gaming sphere is already following the tried and trusted route of the online gambling industry by heading into the Asian market and if that continues the gains will be huge.