Social gaming Farmville

Social games like Farmville will continue to rise in popularity, says a new industry report. (Image: Zynga Inc)

The social gaming market is set to continue rising in an emphatic fashion, according to a new report that suggests it will be worth $17.4 billion by 2019. The extraordinary speed of the uptake of smartphone, tablets and mobile devices over the last few years has seen the industry rocket skywards, and many traditional gambling companies are getting in on the act.

In 2011, Caesars Interactive Entertainment acquired social casino games developer Playtika, a small start-up, for an extraordinary $90 million, in the process announcing that its long-term ambition was to become “the number one in casino and social games on Facebook.”

Many acquisitions and mergers have followed between the two sectors, such as in 2012, when IGT, the world’s largest developer of gaming machines, purchased Doubledown, the world’s largest virtual casino – for a deal worth well over $400 million. Today, almost all of the major online gambling companies have some kind of cross-platform social casino presence – from Unibet to PokerStars – and they’re all backing a winner according to the report released by international market research company Research and Markets recently.

Rise of Mobile Technology

The rapid adoption of mobile technology will continue to rise over the next five years, the report concludes, which will in turn drive the expansion of the social gaming market at a compound annual growth rate of 16.1 percent during the forecast period from 2013 to 2019. In 2012, the global social gaming market was valued at $5.4 billion.

“The growth of social games can be attributed to the growing demand of smartphones and tablets in the market. The ever-increasing demand of the mobile devices has made the social game developers rework their strategies and they are now designing games that can be played on these devices. The growth in the Internet subscribers has also contributed to the growth of the social game users. It is expected that in 2014 one-third of Internet users are likely to take to social gaming. Another factor resulting in the growth social gaming market is free cost of the games on the net,” the report noted.


According to the study an average of 200 million currently play social games online, and that figure is expected to double by 2019. Another growth factor is the adoption of social gaming as a marketing tool by mainstream companies such as fast food restaurants and retail outlets – the increasing so-called “gamification” of businesses. The building of online social communities by using the mechanics of gaming – incentives such as points, levels, challenges, leaderboards and so on, is a valuable way of acquiring and retaining customers.

Of the amount of time spent using social media, social gaming customers spent more than 50 percent on playing games, the report found.

“People have always been attracted to video games and these console-based games come at prices that is not affordable by common man,” said the report. “Today’s generation spend their time on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace among others to socialize with family and friends.”

We interrupt this quote to ask, “MySpace? Who still uses MySpace?”

Ok, back to our quote.

“During their time on the web, the users spend over 50 percent of their time on social games competing with friends and colleagues. Many of the game developers are now looking to tap the social media market and develop games for the social networking sites,” the report added.