Mobile games to topple $10 billion by 2014

From a niche market to one that’s quickly becoming the most important, mobile gaming is expected to continue to climb at an exhilarating rate for at least the next four years.

In fact, this year alone, the iPhone is expected to rake in more than $1.7 billion in app sales. That’s three times more than what Android is expected to bring in, even though there are more Android phones in the US.

This is all according to Futuresource Consulting, an analyst group specializing in the mobile industry. Just to provide some context for how much money $10 billion is – that’s about one-fourth of the 2009 revenue of the entire video game industry. The video game industry has risen over a span of more than 30 years, but most people had never even thought of buying a game on their mobile phone more than five years ago.

The highest area of growth in mobile is expected to be “freemium” games, or games that are free to download but coerce players into buying additional content once they’ve been sucked in. We personally hate that word – just as much as we hate refudiate and simplexity – but it’s gonna start dominating the lexicon pretty soon.

Futuresource also expects to see a big rise in the number of ad-funded games. So start marking your calendars for when you’ll start seeing Best Buy, Colgate, and Tide iPhone games. You know it’s coming.

So what does all this mean to you? Well, first off, if you don’t have a smartphone, you’re totally living in the past, man. I mean, seriously. Secondly, expect the iPhone and others to continue to get more attention from the big publishers. Casual games will grow to an even bigger industry, but we hope with more sophisticated phones and more hardcore gamers going mobile, we can get some serious titles for our iPhones too.