Despite all the things you can do on a mobile handset these days, games remain one of the most commonly download types of apps. That’s no surprise considering that games have also been one of the most established downloads as well, offered by both carriers and third party developers/publishers. But some surprising news has come out this week.
First, Apple is in the game in a very strong way. Our friends at Venture Beat are reporting that iPhone owners helped make the platform account for 14 percent of all mobile game downloads in November. Market research firm comScore, which provided these figures, also noted that about 32.4 percent of all iPhone users reported that they downloaded a game in November, while the market average for mobile game downloads is just 3.8 percent.
What is worth noting as well, is that this is the first time Apple has had any platform that has been so successful with games. While those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads for desktop and laptop computers maybe quick to point out that Apple is trying to be the “cool computer,” it misses the point (or more likely simply ignores the fact) that the PC has been considered a hardcore gaming platform for close to 20 years, while the Mac has not. But with mobile, that could all change.
No doubt, part of this is also due to the fact that the Apple iPhone store, modeled on the easy to use iPod Music Store, makes finding what you want pretty easy. So while users come for the games, they may return for other apps.
The study further found that other smartphones were also seeing mobile game downloads increase, and that about 8.5 million people in the U.S. downloaded games onto a mobile handset in November, up about 17 percent from a year earlier. Clearly games are helping people get through hard times, and it is worth noting that the study found that mobile games are reaching a wider audience than games on other platforms. Most importantly, it seems that games are moving to smartphones at a very steady pace.
That could be encouraging for other developers of mobile apps, as those who take the time to download games also tend to be early adopters for other applications. In fact, I would argue that games might just be the “gateway” to other apps.
However, the news on the mobile gaming front isn’t all good. This week, game publisher THQ announced that it would let go roughly 100 employees. The game publisher/developer had been one of the first major gaming makers to look at mobile seriously as a platform, and brought many of its popular brands to the mobile handset space.
The company’s news is also mixed, because the layoffs stem from the decision to have the wireless group more focused on game development for smartphones, such as the iPhone and less on basic mobile phones. As part of this move, the offices in San Diego, the U.K. and Germany will all close, but the game development studio in Finland will remain open, possibly suggesting games for Nokia handsets will still be developed in the near future.