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How large is the online and mobile games market?

By on December 21, 2011

There are so many different forecasts for the size of the global games market. GAMESbrief will gather all the ones that we see here, so that you can sift through them and find the numbers that you need.

Change and growth in the gaming market

Online and mobile gaming are growing rapidly to become ever more powerful and influential markets.

  • In the US, although total consumer spending on games is flat at around $21.6 billion, the online gaming segment is growing (Source: iQU, accessed 1/12/11)
  • Juniper research predicts that in 2012, online, mobile and physical markets will begin to fuse (source: Juniper research, accessed December 2011). They have previously predicted that by 2015, mobile games revenues would surpass $11 billion globally (source:, November 30th 2011).
  • In 2010, Haruhiro Tsujimoto, Capcom president, “pointed to downloadable games, new gaming devices such as Apple’s iPad and the rise of social gaming on platforms such as Facebook as reasons for a gradual decline in Capcom’s traditional packaged game market” (source: Financial Times, accessed 1/12/11).

Virtual Goods

Market size estimations put the value of virtual goods spend in the billions of dollars.

  • The virtual goods market is worth $6 billion globally (source: Inside Network annual report)
  • By 2015 it will be worth $22 billion (source: Lazard Capital)
  • The global total spend on virtual goods and subscriptions is expected to reach $4.1 billion by 2016, where the largest market by far is the Far East and China (source: Juniper Research, accessed December 2011)
  • In Japan in the first quarter of 2012, Moba-coin consumption increased even after the introduction of countermeasures against complete gacha (source: DeNA)

Social gaming

  • 60% of social games monetisation comes from virtual goods (source: superdata research)
  • By 2015 social gaming will be worth $9 billion globally, when it will dominate the games industry (source: Lazard Capital)
  • 41% of US internet users are actively playing games on social networking sites. More than half play social games daily. (source: Kabam’s 2011 Social Gaming Research)
  • Over 300 million users play social games every month. (Source: Peter Wexler, accessed 28/11/11)
  • The size of the social games market in Japan is estimated at $2.66 billion for 2011, projected to grow to $3.28 billion in 2012 and $3.8 billion in 2013 (Source: Serkantoto, 23/6/11)
  • Japan is estimated to have 5.27 million paying users of social games, and this is set to rise to almost 6 million by 2013 (Source: Serkantoto, 23/6/11)


  • Google Play led the iOS App Store in downloads by about 10% in Q2 2013 and Google Play has since expanded that lead to about 25% in Q3 2013… Although the iOS App Store generated about 2.1x the app revenue of Google Play in Q3 2013, their lead has shrunk since Q2 2013 when their revenue was about 2.3x higher.
    (source: Appannie, October 2013)
  • Apple App Store now accounts for 65 percent of total mobile revenues globally, with Google Play gaining ground rapidly in the last six months with 35 percent market share. Much of this revenue development is due to the success of games monetization across all countries, accounting for 71 per cent of total revenues.
    (source: Distimo, October 2013)
  • 100 million iPads have been sold to date (source: the app side)
  • So far $6.5 billion has been paid out to iOS developers. (source: the app side)
  • Over the last 24 months, worldwide revenues for freemium apps on iOS have more than quadrupled. In 2012, worldwide freemium revenues on Google Play have grown 3.5X. Premium revenues for both app stores remained relatively flat in these time periods. (source: Appannie)
  • In Japan, Google Play freemium revenues have risen 24X. In China, iOS freemium revenues have grown nearly 25x. (source: Appannie)
  • 12% of Europeans and 22% in the US access the mobile web at least once a month. In Japan the figure is 47% (source: Social Cast’s mobile affairs infographic)
  • Between 2007 and 2010, more than 300,000 mobile applications were released (source: Social Cast’s mobile affairs infographic)
  • The mobile games market is expected to grow to $18.3 billion by 2016 (source: Avista partners)
  • Android has a 68% market share globally (source: Darya Trushkina speaking at Login conference 2012)

Market indicators like this show the state of the playing field, but don’t forget the importance of bottom-up forecasting.

About Zoya Street

I’m responsible for all written content on the site. As a freelance journalist and historian, I write widely on how game design and development have changed in the past, how they will change in the future, and how that relates to society and culture as a whole. I’m working on a crowdfunded book about the Dreamcast, in which I treat three of the game-worlds it hosted as historical places. I also write at and The Borderhouse.