The report suggests that mobile gaming is as popular as photo messaging, and only just behind weather, news and search (21m people apiece) as well as social networking (22m) as a mobile activity.
comScore claims that the number of almost-daily active mobile gamers has nearly doubled since the start of 2011, with an almost-even gender split: 48% male and 52% female.
The report also suggests that mobile gaming isn't necessarily "mobile" in terms of where it happens. 64% of British mobile gamers play at home in their living rooms, 45% in their bedrooms and 23% in their bathroom and/or toilet. 33% play while commuting, and 27% play at work.
At the time of writing, 18 of the 20 top grossing games on Apple's UK App Store are freemium, as are 19 of the 20 most lucrative games on Android's Google Play store.
comScore claims that more than 8m Brits now download mobile games, up 45% in the last 18 months, although only 1.3m of them pay to download games. 55% of the latter group own iPhones, versus 28% for Android devices, 4% apiece for Windows Phone and BlackBerry, and 9% for other devices (i.e. non-smartphones).
58% of the 6.8m people who download free mobile games in the UK own Android devices, 40% iPhones, 5% Windows Phones and 3% BlackBerry smartphones, with 4% on other platforms.
From games developers' perspective, that means a target market for paid iPhone games of around 715k people versus 364k for Android and 52k each for Windows Phone and BlackBerry.
No wonder so many are shifting focus to freemium apps, where the funnel of potential players is 3.3m Android users, 2.7m iPhone users, 340k on Windows Phone and 204k on BlackBerry. comScore claims that 2.2m mobile gamers in the UK spend money through in-app purchases.
It's worth comparing comScore's data with other studies and predictions for the UK mobile games market.
Late in 2012, market research firm Newzoo estimated that there were 33.6m British gamers across all platforms, with 17m of them playing on smartphones and 4.9m on tablets.
The company also predicted that Brits would spend £390m on mobile games in 2012, just over 10% of overall UK games industry revenues of £3.8bn. Earlier in 2012, a separate Newzoo report had claimed that 39% of British mobile gamers – 9.2m people – were paying for mobile games.
(That's a big difference to comScore's claims of 1.3m people who pay to download mobile games, and 2.2m who spend money on in-app purchases, mind.)
Another industry analyst, IHS Screen Digest, claimed earlier this year that Brits would spend nearly £300m on mobile games in 2013, compared to £743m on console games.
This is all a far cry from the mobile games industry in the days before the launch of Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market (as it was known then).
Reading the research above reminded me of a presentation at the Mobile Games Forum conference in January 2008 (six months before the App Store went live) by M:Metrics, a market research company that was later bought by comScore.
This was a time when the most popular phones for gaming were made by Sony Ericsson and Nokia, but when only 4.8% of UK mobile subscribers were downloading games in any one month, even if nearly 30% had played a mobile game (i.e. Snake).
Fast forward to the end of 2012, when if comScore's new research is right, just under 32% of the entire UK population are playing mobile games every month, and just under 10% are playing them almost every day.
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