Nielsen: Gaming dominates smartphones

This sort of headline is enough to make our Paul Acevedo jump around with joy and pull many smug faces to the rest of the team due to gaming dominating other categories in terms of usage on multiple smartphone platforms. Since the beginning, games have always been a major hit on iOS, especially those that are Facebook orientated. Windows Phone 7 has Xbox Live and some fairly big titles (the upcoming Beards and Beaks for example), while Android is somewhere in between.

So we're already aware of how popular games are on smartphones, what's so intriguing about this latest analytic data? The breakdown of hours on platforms.

With WP7 featuring Xbox Live, achievements, the Xbox Live hub (opens in new tab) and some arguably larger titles than competitor platforms, one would expect to see WP7 topping the above chart with more hours accumulated than iOS and Android, but this is not the case. Not only is the platform behind in the total number of hours, but Microsoft's mobile OS seems to be slightly under the industry average of 7.8 hours a month.

Is this a negative finding? Not at all if we're to take Microsoft's advertising and marketing campaign for WP7 into consideration. Remember the adverts (opens in new tab) that stated how Windows Phone will enable users to complete tasks quickly and get back to real life? Perhaps this rubs off onto gaming too? Maybe we're now so used to sending SMS messages, replying to emails, browsing the web, downloading apps and more with speed that we don't spend hours upon hours immersing ourselves into Xbox Live?

Then again, it could be that the price of Xbox Live titles (opens in new tab) and iOS ports on WP7 are just too high to justify. The final chart shown below displays the advantage of having the Xbox Live brand used on Windows Phone and the integration with the service. WP7 users are more likely to download apps than any other platform with iOS and Android not so far behind (of course this data isn't accurate), while Blackberry trails in last place (which is expected).

What do you think about this data, and do you believe Microsoft should look into increasing the average play time per user?

Source: Nielsen (opens in new tab), via: WPSauce (opens in new tab)

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • 70% is a very high number. Maybe that should make Microsoft, release some great games and not pricy ports.
  • The iPhone has over a billion apps, of course most of those apps are games, so I'm not really surprised by the data. What can MS do about it? I have 24 games (12 Xbox live and 12 non Xbox live) on my WP7 device, and I think that's too much...for me. I think MS is doing their part for the gaming community, and we're only going to see more games from them (and other developers) as the days go by. Then that 70% will increase dramatically.
  • I don't really think Microsoft cares about hours spent gaming on their platform.Microsoft cares more about attach rate. How many games is the average WP7 owner buying vs how many games is the average iOS owner buying?
  • I'd say price of games on WP7 is skewing the data somewhat, but not by much. (That said, most WP7 games are overpriced compared to identical games on the other platforms, even allowing for an extra $1 for XBL achievements.)Although I've got 33 XBL and 55 non-XBL games on my phone. (Yikes! Time to cull the herd of the trials!) I actually don't play them that often, and most are the kind that can be played in short bursts.The majority of my phone use is with non-game apps.
  • I do tend to jump around a lot!The low time spent playing games could be due to the quality and quantity of games available so far. Indie games are starting to get better, but it's still hard to find the good ones among the mountain of useless ones. As for Xbox Live games, I find plenty to enjoy, but many of them are casual stuff that you might not necessarily play for hours on end. Perhaps Plants vs. Zombies has changed the average since they compiled the charts, no?
  • I spend quite a bit of time playing WP7 games, especially Angry Birds. I think the main problem before was a lack of games for WP7 that were really able to pull you in for short bursts of time (like Angry Birds). Things will change in due time.
  • Netflix + gaming = all i do with my cell phone. LMAO!! i just wish they had RPG games that dint suck balls.wait i do make calls ocne in a while.
  • iOS users tend to be younger than WP7 users because Apple sell them an iTouch (no competitors for this device). So it explain why iOS users play more time on their device. The bad news is that teenegers users will take an iPhone/iPad in the future because they use an iTouch now...
  • I don't think the cost of WP7 games is the main issue although it certainly is a concern. The truth is many people on WP7 only play XBL games and with just one game a week there isn't much for you to play. We finally got Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies but these were ready months ago and Microsoft just decided to starve gamers. Releasing 2-3 games a week would be much better in ensuring everyone can find something they wish to buy. If you don't like tower defense games for instance, tough luck. Next week's game will be the 3rd in 5 weeks and you were not given an alternative.
  • Again, Birds and Beaks is not a tower defense game. We would all love more Xbox Live releases per week, but they don't actually have that many games ready most of the time. They always have to sit on one or two in case a problem comes up and there's nothing else to release in a given week.
  • I think it absolutely makes sense. Going way back, all the way back to Pocket PC's and Windows Mobile the user has always been marketed to with use case scenarios that involved life and business management. While games were always available, they were never a huge part of what people did with these devices.We are the "get it done" crowd and I don't think you are going to see that radically change. Sure you're going to spend some time playing a few select games now and again, but our lives are way to busy, and our time way to limited and important to us to be wasting it on that.
  • And what do these stats say to Windows Phone enthusiast sites? Should you be spending more time on reviewing apps that are really useful, or on games that usage patterns indicate we aren't really that inclined to be using that often? Food for thought guys, food for thought.
  • We just review stuff that we are interested in or think would match our readers' interests. Gaming is actually one of WP7's main draws, even if it doesn't interest you specifically.
  • No surprise. Only reason I bought a windows phone as opposed to android or iPhone was because of the Xbox Live connectivity. I'm like "I can get achivements on my PHONE!?! And it ups my gamerscore? SWEET!"
  • I don't believe it. There is no way the game playing time on WP and Blackberry is about the same. I suspect the WP number was skewed from too small a sample.
  • I'm going with the fact that WP7 games are much more expensive. Yes some get achievements, which I love, but others really do not care for these.