Smartphones, Tablets Will Account for 64 Billion Game Downloads by 2017

Paul Lilly

Free-to-play games proving popular on mobile devices.

Mobile gaming is already popular, but if new data from Juniper Research proves accurate, the number of game app downloads will steadily rise to more than 64.1 billion over the next four years. That would mark a greater than three-fold increase over the 21 billion game downloads that occurred in 2012, and it's thanks to a combination of free-to-play games, more capable devices, and a growing number of smartphones around the world.

As mobile devices become more sophisticated, so too are the games that are being played on them. Juniper Research also expects to see a rise in multi-platform game play through the use of cloud technology, though there are other reasons why smartphones and tablets are such popular gaming devices.

"Tablet games are growing so much because they are such an accessible way for all consumer segments to access games. In particular mid-core gamers, who previously spent a lot of money and time playing games but now have jobs, families or other commitments, are driving this trend," says Siân Rowlands, author of Juniper's Mobile & Tablet Games: Discovery, In-App Purchases & Advertising report. "These people are really embracing the tablet form factor, and innovative game play devices such as the mobile based Ouya console, really appeal to them."

What does this mean for dedicated handheld game consoles? Juniper Research believes there will still be a market for them, though it's clearly shrinking, as evidenced by Nintendo recently cutting its sales forecast for 3DS devices by 14 percent.

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