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Research: Games Now Top Money-Maker on Tablets

Gaming is emerging as a major content category for tablets and smartphones, with the average tablet gamer downloading over 20 games last year, according to a new study from Frank N. Magid Associates and PlayFirst.

The "Tablet and Smartphone Gaming Trends" results from the annual study "Magid Media Futures: Mobile 2012" found that "games are now the top monetizable content category found on the tablet and playing games is now the No. 2 most popular tablet activity surpassed only by accessing the Internet."

And that is likely to grow. Looking ahead, nearly half of the respondents (48%) reported that they expect to play tablet games in the next 12 months.

The study also found that "games are also the most monetizable content category on smartphones" and that users of the apple platform were particularly active. "iOS gamers on tablet and smartphones are more likely to play games, purchase games and buy in-game virtual goods than those gamers on Android devices," the study found.

The average smartphone gamer downloaded over 10 games, the researchers also reported. About half of non-current gamers on smartphones plan to or are considering playing games on their phones in the next 12 months, the survey found.

The results are important for TV programmers because they highlight an opportunity to add games to their apps and digital offerings, something that kids channels have been doing for some time.

"The tablet has become TV Jr. in the home," commented Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors. "Games are clearly at the center of the entertainment ecosystem on the tablet."

According to the study, 23% of tablet gamers are paying for virtual goods with an average spending of $62 while 14% of smartphone gamers are paying for in-game virtual goods, averaging $25.

Overall, game downloads on smartphones increased by 30% from 2010 to 2011, with free-to-play downloads increasing significantly, the researchers noted.

"This study reaffirms what we've seen in our own business as demand for both tablet and smartphone games continues to be strong and growing," said Marco DeMiroz, chief executive of PlayFirst. "Consumers love the free-to-play model as it gives them an opportunity to explore and play more games. Tablets are a natural home for these games especially as we see more beautiful displays and innovative features reaching the market."

The survey was conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates and the company's Magid Media Futures practice and was sponsored by PlayFirst. Results are based on a nationally representative online survey of 2,540 people between the ages of 8 and 64 and was conducted March 19 through March 26, 2012.