Going Mobile: The Serious Business of Playing Games | American Funds

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Investment Insights: The Long View

October 2015

Going Mobile: The Serious Business of Playing Games

“The unique capabilities of smartphones are allowing for new user experiences and new value creation.”

— Brad Barrett

Brad Barrett Investment Analyst Los Angeles office 15 years of experience (as of 12/31/15)
With sales about to exceed $100 billion a year, video games are hardly kid stuff
Source: Newzoo, Newzoo Global Games Market Report Premium, April 2015 quarterly update. The global games market represents revenues for entertainment (television), floating (tablet or handheld console), computer and personal (mobile) screens. Mobile represents personal and floating screens, not including handheld consoles. Data for 2015 and 2018 are estimates. The top 10 companies are based on U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenues and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) for Tencent. Data for 2013 and 2014 are based on December 31 exchange rates for each year. Revenues for Sony, Microsoft, Apple and Google are estimates using quarterly earnings reports in which game revenues are not specifically segmented out.

In 2013, Grand Theft Auto V became the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time, with sales of $1 billion in just three days. That probably disabused most people of the notion that video games were kid stuff. If more evidence is needed, in 2014, global sales of video games topped $83 billion, or more than double the $36 billion global box office for movies. Worldwide, video game sales are expected to reach $113 billion in 2018. The video game industry has become a global phenomenon.

Once played largely on consoles, video games have escaped the living room. Today, mobile devices, largely smartphones, are fueling the industry’s growth. Smartphones may be used for everything from Facebook to boarding passes, but from Candy Crush Saga to Clash of Clans, what they mostly do is let people play games. Sales of video games for mobile devices are expected to rise from $30 billion this year to $44 billion in 2018, accounting for 39% of the global game market.

The top market for gaming is China, where an estimated $22 billion will be spent on video games this year. In the U.S., about $20 billion will be spent on games. According to researchers at the Entertainment Software Association, 155 million Americans play video games. The average game player is 35 years old. Only 26% of game players are under 18. Women 18 or older account for 33% of the game-playing population, while boys 18 or younger account for only 15% of game players.

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