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A whopping 28% growth from last year, from $856 million to over $1 billion. That's the projection by eMarketer for the social gaming market.
The LA Times elaborates on the three main revenue streams within social gaming:
A look at the revenue sources reveals three main contributors: virtual goods, straight-up advertising and something called "lead generation." That's when someone fills out a survey, signs up for a newsletter or applies for a credit card in exchange for virtual goods within a game.
Expected is that brand advertising is going to drive the growth. Ad spending is being projected on $271 million, being doubled from $120 million last year. Relating back to "lead generation", it's an interesting revenue streamfor advertisers, but users are perceiving it as spammy and become more careful giving away email-addresses. Lead generation is expected to shrink to 19.6% by 2012 from 26.3% in 2010.
Paul Verna, an analyst with eMarketer, said:
"Even though fewer than 6% of U.S. social gamers spend money on virtual items, these avid players will produce $653 million in the U.S. alone this year. This is the largest segment of the social gaming economy, and one that marketers are increasingly turning to as a branding vehicle."