Sector worth $301 million last year

LONDON — Worldwide sales of mobile and tablet games are predicted to increase 10 times in the next four years to more than $3 billion, according to a study by Juniper Research.

The “Mobile and Tablet Games — Discovery, In-App Purchases and Advertising 2013-2017″ study published Wednesday suggests a rapid up-take of tablet devices and growing acceptance of in-game purchasing and virtual currencies will drive sales to an estimated $3.03 billion in 2016. The figure calculated for the sector in 2012 was just $301 million.

North America, China and the Far East will drive the growth, expected to account for 86% of user spend in 2016. In China the mobile game industry has seen year-on-year growth of between 40% and 50% since 2009, reaching an estimated Yuan 7.2 billion ($1 billion) in 2012.

The report, which investigates the impact of mobile games on the wider video-games industry, concluded there had been clear migration of users from dedicated portable gaming devices over to tablets. The freemium model, where a product or service is provided free of charge but a premium is charged for advanced features, functionality and virtual goods, is being embraced by tablet users, but cannot be implemented so easily on portable gaming devices since the games must be purchased upfront and devices rarely allow for a 3G or 4G connection.

Smartphones will continue to be the primary device for users to make in-app purchases on, with more than $6 billion estimated to be spent on them in 2016, more than double the amount spent on tablets.

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