EA: half of global mobile games industry revenue from Asia

Mobile Entertainment, via The Next Web, is reporting that gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) estimates that the mobile gaming market in Asia is worth $1.7 billion this year, which represents half of the industry’s $3.4 billion worth for this year alone.

From the post:

EA attributes $1.7 billion of mobile revenues to Asia – inclusive of all the gaming industry, not specifically EA – with European sales amounting to $0.7 billion and $1 billion in the US.

Smartphones will play a large part in the rise of mobile gaming revenue with EA estimating that the devices will usher $1 billion of sales, with feature phone revenue amounting to $0.7 billion.

In the next three years, EA sees the $1.8 billion of the $2.3 billion of US/European mobile games revenues coming solely from smartphones with only $0.5 billion coming from feature phones.

How is it that Asia can account for half of the industry’s revenue when the mobile industries in Europe and the US are more advanced that those in Asia, Japan and South Korea aside?

As I often blog, mobile is far more an important platform for the internet in Asia than western markets.

Not only are PCs often prohibitively expensive for Asians, but wired internet services are also costly and often less reliable, accessible and of inferior quality when compared to mobile internet. 

There is also the fact that Asia more populous than North America or Europe, while many in the region have heavy-gaming habits and play more games, on average, than those in other parts of the world.

Asia is the biggest user of mobile internet – as a proportion of total internet usage – so its importance to the mobile games industry comes as little surprise. However, it is interesting to note that its worth – and not sheer number of users – is so significant as the gaming and mobile gaming markets in the west are more mature, which might lead to the assumption that their business models might be more advanced and therefore more focused on revenue generation. Indeed, I would expect Asia to lead mobile gaming based on the sheer numbers and reliance on mobile, however I would not have forseen that its revenue would be so dominant, at 50 percent of the industry’s total.

It goes without saying that, as mobile networks like Facebook continue to develop in Asia (while growth slows in the west) and deals like Zynga’s move into Japan through Mixi both increase the influence and spread of viral, western-type gaming, it seems feasible that the mobile gaming industry will account for a greater proportion of the industry’s revenue globally.