Report: Social games popularity shrinking

By Steve Watts, Apr 23, 2013 12:22pm PDT

Social games participation dropped sharply recently, according to market analysts. One research firm claims that 10 million fewer people played social games in March than the months prior, a 5% drop. That resulted in the total estimated number of active social network gamers dipping below 200 million for the first time in more than a year.

A study from SuperData Research (via Forbes) showed the drop. SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen attributes the contracting market to oversaturation.

"The social games industry received a lot of momentum and funding in early 2011 and early 2012, and that essentially led to a very crowded market," he said. "And like all industries, the games industry operates between supply and demand economics. If you have a massive amount of supply, the prices drop, and invested money creativity dries up. People are switching slowly but surely to mobile platforms. This is something the industry is trying to figure out: where their users are going to go next."

Other factors cited for the mobile switch include the bite-sized nature of apps that can be played anywhere, and that social games require an Internet connection while an app does not necessarily need one.

Van Dreunen did carry some good news, though. He said that the thinner market most likely removed non-paying customers. The paying customers, which he says "carry the whole industry," are still active and can be marketed towards. He estimates it at 2%, so even after the drop that still makes 4-5 million people willing to spend on social games.

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