A new report from the NPD Group estimates that games for mobile phones represent nearly half of all digital games downloaded by players in the U.S.
The result represents a measure of the distinct number of full games downloaded for all platforms, and not the amount spent to purchase those games or additional money spent on add-on content and in-game microtransactions, NPD said.
"It is important to keep in perspective that the full-game price points on mobile devices are generally lower than those for console and portables systems, so mobile's full game download unit share does not translate to a comparable level of consumer spend," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier, in a statement.
Most mobile game players are not using their phones as a replacement for traditional games, according to the study, with 60 percent of respondents self-reporting that they do not spend less on console and PC titles since they began playing on the phone.
Frazier said this result "makes sense since the games and devices provide for different types of gaming occasions and experiences."
When given a choice, a full 75 percent of players in NPD's report still prefer to purchase retail games over purely digital copies, primarily because "they simply like owning a 'real' copy." The minority that prefers digital copies largely cited the convenience of downloading at home in explaining their preference.
For the new report, NPD surveyed 8,214 Americans in February and March of this year, weighting responses to be representative of the U.S. population.
A recent NPD study
put U.S. spending on purely digital game content at $5.8 billion in 2010, or roughly 36 percent of the total game software market.