Social casino users decline but hardcore players spending more

social-casino-player-declineNew data suggests the social casino market is hemorrhaging users but hardcore users are playing and spending more than ever.

According to market researchers SuperData’s new Social Casino Metrics Industry Trend Analyses report, the number of monthly active players declined 13% in 2015. However, SuperData claims the players that remain have “never been more engaged” and are spending more than ever.

A double-digit drop in casual players isn’t necessary a death knell for the social casino industry. As far back as 2012, Zynga was reportedly earning 70% of its non-advertising revenue from just 0.5% of its users, while more recent data showed that 0.23% of mobile game players accounted for roughly two-thirds of in-app revenue.

SuperData said the top-10 social casino publishers now controll 81% of the market, up from 69% two years ago. SuperData analyst Carter Rogers told iGaming Business that large publishers would continue to increase their control of this market in part because they had more to spend on customer acquisition.

Other research supports the theory that this rich-get-richer trend will continue unless companies are able to develop truly revolutionary products. Mobile marketing firm Fiksu just issued a report showing that the average cost of acquiring loyal mobile app users – defined as someone who opens an app at least three times – reached $4.23 in December, 101% higher than one year earlier and a new all-time high.

In keeping with this theme, SupeData’s Rogers noted that VIP rewards programs were becoming a popular tool to both recruit and retain high-value social casino players. Rogers said the top-five publishers with VIP programs earned 68% more revenue in December than the top-five publishers that lacked VIP programs.

Other data in SuperData’s report includes the fact that 35% of social casino players quit games because of excessive advertising, which SuperData suggests publishers might address by offering bonus in-game currency for players who opt-in for ads.

SuperData also notes that as the social casino audience increasingly shifts to the mobile realm, titles that include a full range of casino options – slots, table games, video poker, etc. – are far more popular on PCs. Mobile users play shorter sessions, which lends itself more to standalone slots play.