Talk of the Playground: Apps

Dubit asks kids for their views on which mobile games they?d like to see move into the toy aisles?
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With 71 per cent of children playing games on mobile devices, it’s no wonder the likes of Where’s My Water? and Fruit Ninja have been turned into toys. But which other games are in the best position to turn themselves into successful plush characters and collectables?

Mobile gaming is big. How big? Dubit’s research of 500 six to 11 year olds reveals that 71 per cent of children play mobile games across all ages. That’s starting young – and you’d expect it to be dominated by the boys, but it isn’t.

When girls are between 11 and 12 years of age, surprisingly 87 per cent are playing games on mobile devices, compared to only 62 per cent of boys.

Despite more girls playing mobile games than boys, boys tend to engage for longer periods of time, spending an average of an hour and 18 minutes a day on mobile games, compared to 54 minutes for girls. 

Girls’ relative lack of engagement means that despite there being fewer male mobile gamers, boys actually represent a larger proportion of the market. Aggregating across the sample of 500 children, boys notched up a total of 205 hours and 24 minutes of mobile gaming a day collectively, whereas girls only accumulated 175 and a half hours.

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It’s still the toy that rules, however. Compared to mobile games, Dubit’s research shows that toys keep kids occupied for longer – while 31 per cent of kids will play with toys for one to two hours, only 15 per cent will play mobile games for that long.

With many apps being free, or costing under one pound, it shouldn’t be surprising that more money is spent on toys than mobile games. However, the divide may be tighter than expected. Dubit’s research shows the average child (or their parent) spends £1.98 a week on mobile games, compared to £3.41 on toys. As it is hard for children to pay for mobile games themselves, it makes sense that game owners are looking to move in on the more lucrative toy market, where the game can drive the initial brand engagement. In effect, the game advertises the toy. It’s also true that compared to the traditional method of using cartoons to launch toy lines, games are a relatively cheaper alternative – as Mind Candy is proving.

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To find the most popular social games, Dubit presented the young gamers with a list of 17 of the most popular titles and asked which they’ve played. Angry Birds is the most popular mobile game with 72 per cent of six to 11 year olds having played the bird-flinging phenomenon, leaving FarmVille/CityVille in second place (39 per cent).

Fruit Ninja (34 per cent) and Worms (31 per cent) claim the third and fourth spots, and both have existing toy deals, as does Where’s My Water?, with Disney unveiling the first line of merchandise in May. Surprisingly, this game is played by only 13 per cent of the sample. Places five to seven went to Temple Run, Diamond Dash and Doodle Jump – at the time of going to press all three are without a toy licence. However, a special Disney/Pixar Brave version of Temple Run has launched to promote the brand, which has a film and toy line.

Having a large number of players is not a guarantee that a mobile game could become a successful toy: not all convert into attractive toys for kids. This is why Dubit asked the children who played the games whether they would like them turned into toys.

Doodle Jump, Triple Town and Zuma were the games with the greatest level of demand from their players (42, 39 and 38 per cent respectively). However, some of these games have more players than others, so Dubit combined the results to see which games married a high number of players with healthy demand for a toy. The resulting data showed that Temple Run and Zuma are in highest demand, followed by Diamond Dash.

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Dubit isn’t suggesting that Temple Run toys would fly off the shelves: the popularity of Temple Run, Zuma, and Diamond Dash are closer in terms of player numbers to Fruit Ninja and Worms (which also benefits from being on the market for over 15 years) than Angry Birds. Out of the 500 children surveyed, 99 played Temple Run and 31 of them wanted it turned into a toy. That represents only six per cent of the sample.

It goes to show that while the mobile gaming industry is big business, it’s going to take something special to knock Rovio’s Angry Birds from its perch.

Dubit is a specialist youth research agency and digital development studio. By utilising a deep understanding of young people’s motivations and behaviours, Dubit works with brand owners worldwide to create digital experiences that children love. 

Phone: 0113 394 7920 




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