Juniper Research has reported that the F2P games market will account for around 40 per cent of the overall 160 billion consumer app downloads expected in 2017.
Premium gaming was once the norm, but developers are now increasingly focused on the free-to-play (or freemium) model, which generates revenues from in-app purchases and adverts. Just five per cent of apps will be paid for at download in 2017, download from 6.1 per cent.
The rapid growth is also attributed to the vast number of consumers in developing markets upgrading from feature phones to smartphones. Additionally, app stores are looking to enhance social elements of gameplay, which Google recently demonstrated with the Google Play games service that enables leader boards and competitions.
The main challenge, however, is for developers to profit from their apps, given the pressure of competing with rivals for free. Meanwhile, the rise of app stores has largely cut operators out of the download chain.
Siân Rowlands, report author, Juniper Research, said: "Carrier billing has become an increasingly viable option for MNOs (mobile network operators) who want to see a share of app store revenues, and also for app stores who want to distribute their content to unbanked consumers. However, MNOs must realise they won’t see as great a revenue share as they did during the pre-app store era."