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Study Of 2013 Trends Reveals Nintendo and Sony Must Conform with Free-to-Play Market

A newly published App Annie study has found that gamers worldwide are favouring iPhone and Android over traditional mobile platforms like Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The study also shows that freemium is proving to be the most successful payment model, and that Candy Crush Saga developers King are still the kings of the worldwide market.

The last time App Annie published findings, it was clear that PlayStation Vita was lagging behind the most out of all platforms. This new study shows that Nintendo 3DS may be in the same stormy waters as Sony’s gaming-optimized handheld (see figure 5, below). App Annie research is used for publishers to decide on marketing strategies- the message here may be that, in order to survive the marketplace, Nintendo and Sony need to modernise and make a drastic move towards mobile gaming markets.

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Figure 5 from App Annie’s 2013 Retrospective

Perhaps a more worrying trend to the ‘core gamer would be the prevalence and continued success of the freemium payment model. Figure 6 below shows that, while in 2012 the growth of freemium-pay apps sat at the rate of 86%, that figure has been surpassed by the 2013 growth of 93%. These percentages aren’t simply freemium apps- they are specifically freemium apps which have in-app payments.

The extent of this growth clearly shows the success of the model, and App Annie analysis notes that the freemium model itself has expanded to include non-gaming apps.

app annie 2013 retrospective

Figure 6 from App Annie’s 2013 Retrospective

A standard example of which is King’s global-best selling game, Candy Crush Saga. In Candy Crush Saga, players can play the game to their hearts’ content- until they run out of lives. The only way to get lives is from other players’ social network notifications- or by purchasing lives directly.

Candy Crush Saga is the pinnacle of successful freemium content, and its success is unrivalled. See below, Candy Crush Saga is the best selling mobile title worldwide, despite other games topping the Asian lists. And, clearly, testament to the profitability of the freemium payment model.

app annie 2013 retrospective

Table 5 from App Annie’s 2013 Retrospective

The message this leaves for traditional gaming-optimized handhelds is stark. It’s clear that Sony and Nintendo, despite their previous domination of handheld markets, will have to innovate their approach, and perhaps move to new payment models to survive a rapidly changing industry.

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