Social Gaming: Trends & markets

By 2016, social games will account for nearly as 50% of the video game market

IDATE has just released its new study about social gaming: by the end of 2012 the social gaming market accounted for 36% of the online gaming market and 13% of the overall video game market. In 2016 its share is expected to rise to 46% of the online gaming market and 18% of the overall video game market. This video game market segment is entering the maturity phase. Its estimated revenues in 2012 were EUR 5.4 billion, which is expected to reach EUR 10.7 billion in 2016. Facebook is by a long shot the leading social gaming platform, with 235 million active gamers in August 2012.

World social gaming market, by geographical region (million EUR)

Source: IDATE, Market Insight « Social Gaming », February 2012
The major players in the video game industry have been slow to enter the social games fray

The traditional video game industry players are showing a willingness to adapt to new consumption habits

Publishers are seeking to make their traditional games more « social ». They are also making their games available through free-to-play. Game consoles such as Nintendo and Sony are integrating social functionality in their new versions (e.g., Wii U and Xbox 720): video chat to contact friends online, various ways to get in touch with players around the world and ask for help, etc.

Nevertheless, most of the major video game firms are not on Facebook

This might be because they have not truly grasped the importance of deploying their offerings on social networks, or, rather, that they prefer to wait cautiously until the market has reached a certain maturity before entering. It could also suggest that they simply would rather not risk positioning themselves in a sector in which the recipes for success differ in every respect from their traditional sector. Admittedly, a social game’s success usually has more to do with its number of players than the quality of the game per se.
In other words, the fact that the big developers who have invested in social gaming rank relatively well in terms of MAU rankings does not necessarily put them ahead of the rest.

Social gaming as a means of attracting new users to console games

The strategy of the six big stakeholders on Facebook can be explained in several ways. They may be seeking to capitalise on a new market segment that represents a growth driver at first and which could become a business sector in its own right down the road. Electronic Arts reported in 2011 that ARPU from EA Sports apps on Facebook was USD 56, exceeding net income per user from its console games.
But social gaming is also a means of bringing in new users to console games. The vast majority of social games of the traditional industry players are in fact « light », social versions of their console games meant to entice players to take it a step further and discover the « real » game.

Presence on Facebook of the major ‘traditional’ video game publishers