Mobile gaming? Think retro

ZARA BAXTER
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2012

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Words with Friends is the biggest mobile game, and it has nearly 15 million active users per month. But the free games on your PC have a bigger total reach. Those playing Freecell, Minesweeper, Hearts, Solitaire and Pinball on Windows number 20 million a month in the US alone, according to recent Nielsen data.

Nielsen conducts a metered survey, tracking what programs are used on select desktops around the US, on a monthly basis.

It's report released earlier this month found that Freecell has 9.4 million unique players each month, and Solitaire has 7 million - these two games averaged around 150 minutes of play per week, and with an average of seven play sessions a week, it seems like playing card games is a daily fix for many.

Rather than dying with the advent of mobile and social gaming, the older desktop freebie games are still immensely popular, appealing to an audience predominantly aged 25 or over.

Some 50 per cent of those playing Freecell or Solitaire are aged 50 years or older. Pinball is the only game out of the free Windows games that appeals mostly to younger players, with 30 per cent of Pinball players younger than 25.

Nielsen suggests that "familiarity with programs and games can have a lot to do with the long tail of gameplay". That doesn't just mean providing versions on the App stores and markeplaces. Multiple version of Freecell are available for iOS and Android now.

No manufacturer or handset currently has these familiar games pre-installed, however. There's an opportunity, says Nielsen, for developers and publishers to create handsets that pre-install mobile and social versions of these games to help older gamers transition their desktop fix to gaming on the road.

-PC World

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