Sensing an opportunity created by the steep prices of game consoles – a factor that hampers their quick uptake by consumers – game developers have rushed in to satiate people’s gaming needs by leveraging social media. Their gamble has paid off well. While connecting with friends and family on Instagram, Facebook, and MySpace, it has been found that people spend almost 50% of the time playing online games by themselves or with an opponent on social media.
This trend reveals that the global market for social gaming has gained unprecedented traction. Going forward, the market is slated to expand at a cracking pace to reach a staggering US$17.40 bn by 2019.
That a growing crop of smartphone-toting people are providing a fillip to the global market for social gaming is anyone’s guess. Studies show that the number of monthly active users for social games was over 200 million in 2012 and that number would likely double by 2019. While numbers increase, it also ups the pressure on social game developers to retain their consumer base by creating more engaging content. Hence, they are constantly tinkering and redesigning to launch more innovative games and prevent users from getting bored. Game publishers are coming up with games belonging to different genres, namely casino games, sport role playing games, virtual villages, social role playing games, ownership games, etc. Among them, casino and virtual village games have been breakout successes.
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The main source of revenue for social game developers are advertisements. Besides, the in-game sale of virtual goods and lead generation/offers also helps them rake in revenue. The revenue made via advertisements is predicted to increase at a good clip in the near future. The virtual goods segment is expected to exhibit a robust growth in demand too over the coming years. Demographically, women and individuals in the age group of 19 to 25 years have emerged as the dominant end users of social games.
Asia Pacific is the dominant regional segment in the global gaming industry and thereby leads the global market for social gaming. A large population, increased internet connectivity, and growing disposable income of the people in the region have boosted the market substantially. The rising GDP of Southeast Asian economies such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia has led to maximum market growth in the regions. Same is the case with Japan, South Korea, and India. On account of low operating costs and abundant skilled resources for developing and testing new products, experts predict, the region stands a high chance of becoming the hub of social gaming.
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In Asia Pacific, the ban on social networking sites in China, however, has to some extent hobbled the growth of the market. Same is the case in the Middle East. Other major markets for social gaming are North America and Europe. In North America, app-based social gaming contributed to a lion’s share in revenue in the U.S. and Canada.
Some of the prominent players in the industry are Electronic Arts Inc., Social Point, Booyah Inc., Renren Inc., Zynga, and Wooga GmbH. Among them, Zynga topped the global market for social gaming in 2012 and is predicted to maintain its stronghold in the years to come.