The World Wide of Gaming – Social Games from a Global Perspective

Mark Stephens

Wherever you’re reading this there’s someone not far away playing a game. Yes, that includes the North Pole or the middle of the Gobi desert. Gaming is truly global these days and this post looks at a few of the facts and figures about just how much the world of social games has been exported to all corners of the world.


More Devices & More Mobile Broadband

When gaming used to be solely on PCs, consoles or other dedicated devices the initial investment limited its reach around the world. Quite simply most people in developing countries couldn’t afford the devices or the games themselves, so it boomed only in industrialised countries and amongst the emerging middle classes in the developing world.

When the mobile phone was used to connect to the Internet things started to change; since then, the development of smartphones and tablets has brought social gaming to the global masses through free social networks; and freemium games can be enjoyed from mobile broadband connections (satellite and wi-fi ) that delivers Internet to the furthest flung areas of the planet.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, 77% of people in the developed world and 31% of people in the developing world used the Internet in 2013 – up from 51% and 8% respectively in 2005; globally it has increased from 16 % to 39% in that time.

These are the ‘raw materials’ that have allowed gaming to rise across the world.

Global Gaming Facts and Figures

A very informative and interesting report was released recently by the good folk at NewZoo. The Global Games Market Report highlights many key statistics and trends about the global gaming industry. Head on over to their site for a full rundown but here are some of the key findings:

Raw Gaming Numbers:

  • The number of worldwide games is expected to grow from 1.21 billion in 2013 to 1.55 billion in 2016
  • Mobile gaming will grow at an average annual rate of 19% for smartphones and 48% for tablets
  • The Asia Pacific region will be the global leader with a 37.9% market share by 2016, as emerging markets drive global gaming growth

Game Spend:

  • At present 15% of the global population accounts for 74% of gaming revenue – but this gap will close in the coming years as emerging markets change the picture
  • Regional growth in game spending is highest in Latin America (11%) and Asia Pacific (11%)
  • While consoles still dominated total revenues from games in 2013, mobile and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are by far the biggest growth areas

Screen, Device and Monetisation Trends:

  • All games are moving to the cloud, becoming more reliant on in-game purchases for revenue and are accessible from multiple screen types
  • There is overlap nowadays between the traditional industry segments: gamers may play the same game on four different types of screen: an ‘entertainment’ screen like a TV, a computer screen, a floating screen (tablet) and a personal screen (smartphone)
  • Based on this break down, the computer screen currently generates 39% of revenue, the entertainment screen 36%, the floating screen 13% and the personal screen 12% (the latter two categories are catching up though)

Marketing to a Worldwide Audience

Game developers have had to embrace these changes by adapting games and releasing different versions for different audiences, device preferences and so on; nobody wants to miss out on the potential global market for their game.


For instance they have to cater for many different languages and gaming preferences. A quarter of Internet users speak Chinese and almost a tenth speak Spanish, so instantly here are two languages that can expand the reach of a game considerably.

Different preferences include how audiences like to interact during games, tolerance levels for in-game advertising, and what their habits are for making in-game purchases. Simple cultural differences like colour preferences need to be considered too – for instance, red and gold are lucky colours in China.

Careful monitoring and user analytics help highlight where adjustments need to be made. Consideration of the types of factors outlined above will determine whether a game can be adapted to conquer the world; after all, any developer nowadays potentially has all the tools available to do that.