Thanks to the massive popularity of Facebook and the addictive appeal of real-time simulation games, gaming on social networks has gained widespread adoption.
According to a BlogHer/iVillage study, about 22 percent of adult U.S. Internet users played casual games daily in March 2010. A study from ThinkEquity estimated that 79 million people will play social games in the U.S. in 2012, up from 47 million in 2009.
As the social gaming audience continues to grow, so will revenue from direct and indirect payments and advertising, resulting in more than $720 million, according to ThinkEquity. By 2012, the market is expected to reach $2.18 billion.
U.S. direct-paying users are expected to generate $1.19 billion in revenue by 2012, up from $340 million in 2009. Indirect-paying users -- defined as those who opt-in to advertising offers attached to social games -- will inject $868 million into the industry in 2012, up from $324 million in 2009. Social game advertising revenue will double to $124 million in 2012.
"Social gaming represents opportunity for marketers," said Paul Verna, a senior analyst at eMarketer. "In the coming months, expect to see more marketers muscling into the social gaming space through brand marketing tactics such as display ads, video ads, custom games, in-game enhancements, product placements and sponsorships."