Social Gaming Market Size and Growth Expectations

social gaming marketIf you have a Facebook account, chances are you have been invited at least a few times to start playing some sort of social game. Games like Farmville and Candy Crush started the craze but the entire industry has changed significantly in the last few years and so have the social games.

It will be an understatement if we simply say that the games you can play on Facebook define what social games truly are. Not all games on the social media platform are the same. In addition to that, there are plenty of social games you can play on platforms other than Facebook.

Most of the games that you will come across on social media are pretty simple casual games that can be played by anyone. This type of gaming option often does not require exceptional skills or knowledge and is free to play. The games you are used to playing on your phone while you are doing your daily commute or when you want to kill some time can also be considered casual games. In fact, many social games can now be installed on your smart devices and be played wherever you go.

The social aspect is an integral part of these games as it differentiates them from other multiplayer games. Social games are mainly focusing on providing gameplay for smaller groups of players. These games allow you to share items or invite other players to help you along your social gaming journey.

While this is not a necessary part of social gaming, often this type of entertainment features in-game purchases. This is one way for social games to earn profit as players tend to spend real money in order to earn more lives, unlock exclusive items, or advance to higher levels.

In recent years, social casino games have also become extremely popular. While they do not allow players to bet real money and earn any real funds, they still provide great entertainment for fans of slots, roulette, poker, and other casino classics. Social casino games also often incorporate in-game purchases, allowing players to buy tokens in order to play their favorite casino games.

The global social gaming industry was expected to increase by $25.4 billion, with the compound growth reaching 15.1%. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the revised estimates for the industry’s growth by 2027 is around $43.9 billion, recording a 14% CAGR.

Although it is not the only social network that offers social games, Facebook is definitely one of the most popular platforms for this type of gameplay. Among the most popular social games on Facebook, we can find titles like 8 Ball Pool and Candy Crush Saga. Social casino games have also become very popular in the last few years, with Texas HoldEm Poker and various slot games leading the popularity lists.

The Leading Publishers of Social Casino Games

Аs the coronavirus pandemic led to the closing of almost 1,000 casinos in the US, the social casino games were there to offer players great entertainment. Some research showed that for the year that ended April 2020, the social gaming revenues reached around $5.7 billion. The social gaming revenue for the first 3 months of 2020 gained 6.8%, amounting to more than $1.5 billion.

  • Plаytika

    In the first quarter of the fiscal year, the leading social gaming company was Playtika. The revenue reported for that period amounted to $425 million, showing a 10% year-over-year growth. Playtika is the creator of Slotomania and Caesars Entertainment social games, which are extremely popular among slot fans.

    Thanks to its fun gaming solutions, Playtika reports more than 27 million active players every month. The company was founded in Herzliya, Israel and has more than 3,500 employees across the world. Since the global pandemic resulted in higher numbers of active users who play social games, many companies in this industry saw a rise in their price in the stock market. This is why Playtika decided to go public and is currently trying to raise about $1 billion in the IPO. If we take a look at global social casino companies in 2018, we will see that Playtika has the biggest market share of 28.2%.

  • Aristocrat

    Another major social casino games publisher is Aristocrat, which is a company with extensive experience in the gaming industry. In 2018, it acquired Big Fish, which is a leading publisher of free-to-play games. Thanks to this merger, Aristocrat is now one of the leading companies that provide social casino games such as free slots, bingo, blackjack, roulette, and poker. In 2018, Aristocrat’s share on the global social casino publishers market was 12.7%, placing the company in second place.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of gaming facilities, Aristocrat reported a 46.7% drop in net profit for the year ended September 2020. Despite that, the digital gaming sector of the company reported a 31.3% increase, reaching $1.61 billion. The free-to-play mobile game Raid: Shadow Legends and the increasing popularity of social casino games were the main contributors to the growth in the digital division of Aristocrat.

  • Scientific Games

    Scientific Games is also one of the top social games publishers, providing a number of social casino games like Jackpot Party, Gold Fish Casino Slots, and others. The social gaming division of the company enjoyed a huge increase in revenue during the pandemic shut-down period. Thanks to the boost in the popularity of social games in the past few months, the social gaming sector reported a third-quarter revenue increase of 30% to $151 million . Meanwhile, the earnings gained 54%, reaching $32 million. The market share of the publisher in 2018 was estimated to be 8.5%, making it one of the top social casino publishers for that year.

  • Zynga

    Zynga is also one of the most popular social gaming publishers, offering players a number of fun free-to-play desktop and mobile games. Zynga is the creator of the popular social game FarmVille that held its position as the most popular Facebook game for over 2 years. Zynga Poker, Zynga Bingo, and various slots are among the social casino games offered by Zynga. The company’s market share in 2018 was 5.8%, placing it rather high on the list of social casino publishers.

Тhe Size of the Social Gaming Market

The social gaming industry is steadily growing in the last few years. While other businesses may struggle due to the ongoing pandemic, social games have enjoyed even bigger popularity during the months when users could not leave their homes or felt more stress and boredom.

Casino Revenue

In 2016, the global social casino revenue amounted to a little over $4 billion, with about $2.72 billion being generated from mobile games, while over $1 billion was contributed by Facebook social games. The data for the next year showed a revenue of $4.87 billion, with Facebook social games contributing about $1.06 billion to that amount, while mobile games generated $3.46 billion. With the industry continuing to grow in the next several years, the forecast for 2022 is for a global social casino revenue of about $7.27 billion, with about $5.89 billion being generated from mobile games and $681 million earned via Facebook social games.If we take a look at the global social casino gaming revenues in 2018, we will see that North America generated nearly $2 billion, Asia reported a revenue of about $1.17 billion, and Europe contributed with revenue of $867 million. Meanwhile, South America generated $182 million and the contribution of the rest of the world amounted to $121 million.

Gaming Industry

The social casino games in North America contribute roughly $231 million to the GGR increase every year. This market also contributed 82% to the total worldwide GGR growth in 2019. While the forecast for the upcoming years predicts growth at a slower rate for North America, it is still the region that generates the biggest growth.When we take a look at the social casino market in 2020, we will notice that Africa marks the highest growth rate of 13%, however, it is based on a very low point. This is why we can consider Asia as the region that has the highest growth outside North America.

Increasing Popularity of Games

The prolonged pandemic outbreak has led to an overall increase in revenue in the social casino sector. This is especially true for China where these types of social games enjoyed a great increase in popularity. In addition to that, the huge mobile market in Asian countries is yet another factor that contributes to the increasing popularity of social casino games and mobile games in this region.Unfortunately, as social media networks such as Facebook are restricted or unavailable in some countries in Asia, this region is still far behind North America when it comes to GGR contribution from the social casino gaming sector.

Main Drivers of Market Growth

Main Drivers of Market GrowthSocial games have become a very popular source of entertainment for social network users. About 170 million users around the world engage in social casino gaming every month, while 81 million play social casino games every day. The overall popularity of social games is often due to their simplicity and availability.

Anytime users open their social network profile, they can also continue their favorite social games where they have previously left off. As social games are also available across different mobile devices, players can play at any time and place they decide.

  • Gaming Diversity

    Gaming diversity is definitely one of the factors that contribute to the growth of the social gaming sector. As publishers strive to provide games suitable for different groups of users, there are plenty of options to choose from when you want to play social games. In addition to that, social casino games also cover the interest of different groups. Based on numbers of users across the UK, the US, and Australia, it is safe to say that slots are the most popular social casino games as 53% of players prefer them.
  • Playing in Pandemic

    Many players use social games as a stress-relief method, which is also one of the reasons for the popularity of these games. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to extensive periods of lockdowns, the boredom and stress levels for numerous people reached new highs. This is why social games enjoyed even higher peaks in 2020, with many people looking for a fun way to spend their time at home.
  • Playing for Free

    Since social games are mostly played for free, many enjoy this type of entertainment. Even social casino games are played with virtual money, which allows fans of slots, blackjack, poker, and other casino variations to play without risking any real money. Of course, in-play purchases are very common for social games but betting your own funds and winning or losing real money is not possible.
  • Shared Experience

    The shared experience between players is also a factor that contributes to the popularity of social games. Exchanging items and competing with fellow players make the whole experience more interactive and fun for social network users. Although many games offer mainly solo activities, they still allow players with the same interest in social games to share the fun and even help each other in their respective gaming journeys.

Is Social Gaming a Gateway to Real Casino Gambling?

There are many concerns that social casino games can be harmful to vulnerable players. Since these variations of social games do not incorporate any monetary betting or rewards, legally, they do not fall under the category of gambling, which is why they are also not properly regulated.

Even though studies show that the average age for most social casino players ranges between 30 and 45 years, this data is based only on investigations on adults. Meanwhile, studies that focus on adolescent social casino gaming users show that at some point in their lives, roughly between 10% to 32% of adolescents have played social casino games. These results show that this group of users is exposed to casino games from an early age may develop an interest in social casino games and even real-money betting.

Social casino games are not typically age-restricted, meaning that individuals below the age of 18 can easily play slots, poker, blackjack, and other casino-style games. Even though there is no real-money betting involved, having easy access to such games can easily lead to a higher interest in monetary gambling.

Social casino gaming, however, is not always a precondition for real-money gambling. About 71.2% of 521 surveyed adults shared that social casino gaming has not affected their gambling behavior. Meanwhile, 9.6% of the 521 participants indicated an increase in their overall gambling after they have engaged in social casino gaming. Another 19.4% reported that social casino games had a direct effect on their decision to gamble real money.

Social casino games have a bigger impact on monetary gambling among males, younger users, and players who are prone to problem gambling behavior. Most social casino players have pointed out winning real money as the main reason to switch to monetary gambling. While social casino games do not always lead to gambling real money, many social casino players are prone to try real-money wagering after they have played social casino games.

Growth Expectations

Growth ExpectationsThe global social casino industry has enjoyed steady growth in the last several years. The predictions for the upcoming years between 2020 to 2022 are for the market to continue growing, especially after the global pandemic which brought significant peaks in social casino gaming in many regions around the world.

Factors like the increasing number of mobile devices and stronger internet connections are expected to have a positive impact on the growth of the social casino industry in the next few years.

When comparing the installs of social casino games on Android devices in 2020, we will notice that there is a significant increase to 1.39 billion installs from 33.3 million in 2012. The forecast for 2022 is for social games installs to reach between 1.73 and 2.03 billion. Another factor that is expected to contributestr to the growth of the social casino market is the constant release of newer social casino games. While this type of entertainment offered only 47 social casino games back in 2012, in February 2020, this number has reached 1,166.

The predictions for the social casino revenue in 2022 is to reach $7.27 billion, with mobile games generating about $5.89 billion, while Facebook games contributing about $681 million. These estimates are based on revenue of a little over $4 billion in 2016 and revenue of $4.87 billion in 2017.

Global Social Casino Publishers’ Market Share in 2018

Top Facebook Games Based on Monthly Active Users (MUA) as of October 2020
Texas HoldEm Poker10 million MUA
8 Ball Pool10 million MUA
Candy Crush Saga10 million MUA
Farm Heroes Saga10 million MUA
Coin Master10 million MUA
Subway Surfers5 million MUA
Clash of Clans5 million MUA
Dragon City5 million MUA
Hay Day5 million MUA
Trivia Crack5 million MUA

Gross Gaming Revenue in 2019 by Regions

Gross Gaming Revenue in 2019 by Regions
North America71%
South AmericaSouth America

Gross Gaming Revenue Growth by Region

Gross Gaming Revenue Growth by Region
South America9%
North America6%

Global Social Casino Revenue by Year

Global Social Casino Revenue by Year
Number are expressed in millions USD *predictions for upcoming fiscal years is a comprehensive informational website where you can find listings of the best casino sites in the UK and how to play guides about Slots, Roulette, Blackjack and Live Dealer casino games.