Has social casino gaming already peaked? Market analysts SuperData Research reported that the ranks of monthly social casino players have shrunk from 109m a year ago to just 85m. However, social casino spending hit a record $175m in April, suggesting that the casual player chaff is being winnowed away, leaving a hard core of dedicated players who are more willing to flash the cash to either keep playing or progress further into their game of choice.
SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen told VentureBeat the numbers reflected a maturing social casino market, leaving operators more concerned with retaining free-spending players than with upping marketing budgets in order to attract new players. During last month’s earnings call, IGT CEO Patti Hart said her DoubleDown Casino social gaming operation didn’t want to catch the “disease” of “just generating traffic,” choosing instead to focus on upping the conversion of players into payers.
Van Dreunen said this shift from acquisition to retention represented “an important transitional moment” for social casino publishers looking to build a sustainable business. Van Dreunen cited the example of Zynga Poker, which has a relatively low average revenue per user but has a high retention rate, keeping it among the top money earners in the social casino category. Van Dreunen says dedicated players have shown “a distinct preference for games that emulate the payout rates of real-life casino games.”
For the 12 months from April 2013 to March 2014, Zynga Poker’s average monthly spending per mobile game user was $0.16, good enough for tenth spot on SuperData’s chart of top earning mobile game titles (not just social casino). Other social casino titles on the chart include Big Fish Games’ Big Fish Casino, which ranked second with $2.07. DoubleDown Casino was well back in sixth place with $0.81 while Caesars Interactive’s Slotomania ranked ninth with $0.43.