Video games on smartphones and tablet computers were meant to be played on the go, but have become a formidable home gaming platform, a new survey says.
The most likely place to play mobile games was on the couch, according to 69% of respondents to the 2012 PopCap Games Mobile Games Research report Where People Play Mobile Games. Information Solutions Group conducted the online survey of 2,031 mobile phone users -- 1,004 of which were mobile gamers -- in the U.S. and the U.K.
Two of the next four most likely places to play mobile games were also at home:
As a passenger in a car, bus or train -- 63%
Home lying in bed -- 57%
Waiting for an appointment -- 55%
Watching television -- 41%
Home topped the list of gamers' favorite places to play, too. The couch and in bed were the top two choices, earning 50% and 37% marks from respondents. Tablet owners were even more likely to play on the couch than smartphone players, with 71% listing the couch as their favorite place to play.
The findings are "surprising," But they do make sense, says Giordano Contestabile, the senior director of mobile product and business strategy at PopCap Games. He is scheduled to discuss the findings at this week's Casual Connect convention, which starts today in Seattle.
"In most of the cases, these are gamers who only play on mobile or for whom mobile is their first gaming device. They don't necessarily have a console or a PC. When they play, they play on mobile," Contestabile says. "A lot are playing in front of the TV. That is probably not a good signal for consoles and traditional gaming and it is probably not a great signal for TV engagement."
Half of all mobile gamers say that their primary video game platform at home is their tablet or smartphone, with 14% strongly agreeing and 36% somewhat agreeing that statement.
Mobile games have proven to be plenty addictive with 10% in the survey saying they had played while driving a car, at a place of worship or during a movie. "We all have very short moments during the day, when we are bored or don't know what to do," Contestabile says. "Most mobile games are designed so you can play for a few minutes."
Nearly one in 10 (9%) have been late or missed an appointment, class, ride or flight because they were caught up in playing a mobile game.
The mobile gaming audience continues to grow. More than four out of 10 (44%) adults surveyed had played at least one mobile game in the past month – a 29% increase from the 2011 report. The ratio of new gamers to all mobile gamers doubled from 22% in 2009 to 44% in 2012.
Tablets such as the iPad and Kindle have attracted about 11 million new mobile gamers in the past 12 months. More than one-third of mobile gamers (36%) now own a tablet and 74% of the tablet gamers said they did not play mobile games previously.
Smartphone adoption continued to rise, too, with 71% of mobile gamers owning one, up 16% from 2011.
"Ten years ago there were just about 80 million people playing games in the world, most were playing core games and most were male and young. If you look at the market now, there are about 1.5 billion playing games. We went from a niche industry to one of biggest in the world," Contestabile says. "Mobile has become the primary device for gaming, both in terms of size and measure and in terms of innovation that we see on the platform. I think most of the growth in the industry is going to come from mobile, that is pretty clear."