Is it any wonder that the video game/smartphone game/social media game market is so complex and has reached a level of warfare that analysts can barely follow? Super Data released its report on the state of video games for July 2013. Among its most important findings is that digital game sales reached $1.1 billion. Of course, because so many games are free, it is hard to know whether the figure says much about the real status of the sector.
One thing is clear. Companies like Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) will continue to falter. As a matter of fact, one of the critical findings of the new study is particularly damning for Zynga:
In early July, King dethroned Zynga as the leading social game developer on Facebook by number of monthly active users (MAUs), despite having a much smaller portfolio of titles. With social platforms maturing, game companies that offer more complex game play and make better use of social functionality will continue to do well. King’s Candy Crush Saga generated an estimated $438,000/day in the month of July.
The primary reason there was any interest in the Zynga IPO was its prime spot on Facebook Inc. (FB). Once that eroded, shares began to sell off.
As the long time success of console and PC based games continued to disappear, gaming has begun to look like almost all other "content" plays, be they news, long-form or short-form programming. The smartphone has begun to take the lion's share of the industry. Even if smartphone companies other than Samsung and Apple Inc. (AAPL) bleed red ink, the firms that use them as platforms have, in many cases, done remarkably well.
Mobile games continue to do well, totaling $271 million in revenues in July, up 32% from a year earlier. Overall conversion rates have been consistently above 5%, indicating that mobile gamers are becoming increasingly accustomed to spending on mobile games.
In July it was again Candy Crush Saga (King) and MARVEL War of Heroes (Mobage) that featured as the top grossing apps in the US. Kabam’s The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth came in third as top grossing across all app stores, at the expense of Supercell’s Clash of Clans.
Facebook’s announcement to enter the mobile games market as a publisher may bring a wind of change to the top of the mobile games food chain, which has been dominated by a small group of titles. However, the effects may be a few months out as Facebook is selectively working with medium and small game developers.