As the calendar year of 2010 comes to a close, the inevitable bombardment of awards and statistics about the gaming industry has begun. Market researcher Newzoo recently released a report that reaffirmed already-known facts. It comes as no surprise that the fickle economic climate affected gaming negatively, the evidence being the drop in consumer spending by two percent. While this overall industry depreciation came as a result of the waning sales of physical games, both PC and console, the market did see improvement in virtually every other medium. Was 2010 a significant milestone in the transition from traditional gaming to Internet-based, downloadable content?

One of the most notable changes over the past year was the exponential increase in consumer spending on social network-based games, which rose 66 percent. This comes as a result of increased investment in friendly, casual games by larger publishers, a trend emulated by Electronic Arts’ purchase of Playfish, a prolific online developer for sites like Facebook.

statistics-of-2010-spending1Downloadable titles for PC and Mac also saw a great increase in consumer investment, rising about 60 percent. This most likely comes as a result of increased saturation in downloadable content in the Mac realm, most notably Steam’s foray into Apple-based market.

Mobile devices also saw an sizable increase in consumer spending, most likely due to the increased developer presence on the Android and iOS platforms. One could infer that the release of the iPad, iOS 4.0, the larger user-base of Android, and significant updates on the hardware side of things all contributed to the success of the mobile niche.

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) also enjoyed a 27 percent increase over the past 12 months, a statistic that comes as a result of big releases, such as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Casual gaming, an ambiguous term in the sense that it applies to multiple platforms, rose about 34 percent, which is derived from the increased saturation of household consoles such as the Nintendo Wii.

With all of the increases in consumer interest, it is hard to believe that overall spending fell over the past year. While this is a result of the physical market being larger, it is expected that the online spectrum will yield more power in the overall industry footprint very soon.

What do you think? Was 2010 a transitional year, in the sense that the boxed-discs are falling to downloadable titles? Will developers show an increased interest in the latter in 2011? Let us know in the comments below.

[Source: Newzoo]