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Business Opportunities in Mobile and Social Gaming

As smartphone and tablet adoption surges, mobile gaming is a great space for a new player--if you can stand out from the competition.

By the Numbers

30%: Yearly growth rate in app downloads, according to Plunkett Research

13 billion: Projected number of apps downloaded in 2012, according to Plunkett Research

2: Number of enterprises in mobile gaming in 2007, according to IBISWorld

4,282: Projected number of enterprises in 2017, according to IBISWorld

$4.5 billion: Projected revenue for mobile gaming in 2012, according to IBISWorld

$12.3 billion: Projected revenue for mobile gaming in 2017, according to IBISWorld


Why It's Hot

Mobile gaming's popularity has paralleled the widespread adoption of social media. Two-thirds of adults use social networks, and nearly 50% of cell-phone owners use smartphones. Games such as Angry Birds and Words With Friends are highly accessible, attracting users outside the traditional gamer demographic.

Barriers to Entry

Competition is fierce. In 2007, there were two mobile-game makers, which collected $2 million in revenue and employed 32 workers, IBISWorld reported. This year, there are more than 1,500 developers, employing 28,000 workers and expected to earn $4.5 billion in revenue—a 397 percent annual growth rate.

Growth Potential

Analysts expect industry sales to nearly triple, to about $12 billion, by 2017.

If you can attract a big enough following, these games can be hugely profitable. Some companies have successfully tapped Facebook’s massive user base to earn millions of dollars, or seen massive paydays through acquisitions--or both. Last year, Electronic Arts bought PopCap Games, maker of Bejeweled and Plants Vs. Zombies, for $750 million. And in March, Zynga bought rival Omgpop for $180 million, after its game Draw Something hit 35 million downloads in just two months.

Where the Action Is

Many games are integrated with Facebook, making them accessible to women older than 40, who now represent the fastest-growing gamer demographic, IBISWorld reports.

See more Business Opportunities by Industry in 2012

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jun 1, 2012


John McDermott is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for

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