Gartner: Gaming spending to total $74 billion this year

Worldwide spending on electronic gaming products will total $74 billion this year, and be driven in the coming years by fast growth in mobile and online games, Gartner said in research released on Tuesday.

Total gaming spending this year will grow by 10.4 percent compared to the previous year, when spending on gaming products was $67 billion. A bulk of the gaming expenditure this year will be to tied to consoles, which will total $44.7 billion on software, and $17.8 billion on hardware, Gartner said.

But in the future, online gaming could take over a larger share of overall spending as social networks and new gaming models take shape, Gartner said. Many online games are currently provided on a subscription basis, but could be provided for free, with developers earning money through in-game advertising and sale of value-added services or virtual goods.

Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are also becoming popular devices for gaming, and the growing number of paid game downloads from online application stores should aid growth in overall game-related spending, said Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

Mobile games are the most downloaded applications in app stores, Nguyen said. Gaming applications such as Angry Birds, which is available for multiple OS platforms, have been downloaded millions of times on smartphones and tablets. Games also rank as some of the top downloaded apps from Apple’s App Store in some countries.

“Mobile gaming will continue to thrive as more consumers expand their use of new and innovative portable connected devices,” Nguyen said.

Microsoft and Sony host online gaming services through their Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles, respectively, while multiplayer role-playing game services such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online are available on a subscription basis for laptops. Microsoft is trying to promote online gaming through smartphones based on its Windows Phone 7 OS, which hosts games for the Xbox Live online gaming service.

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