Despite a burgeoning market filled with educational children’s games and apps which aim to turn smartphones and tablets into tools for learning, when it comes to time spent actually playing games, kids are still gravitating to games that are more “fun” than instructive. At least that’s what the folks at Kytephone recently discovered. The startup, which offers tools that turn Android phones into kid-safe devices with parental controls, found that Rovio’s Angry Birds Star Wars is the most played game since its release, and several other Rovio titles top the charts in terms of time spent gaming.
Kytephone pulled this data from a sample size of 13,000 children, aged 8 to 14 years old, located in over 70 countries. Kytephone co-founder Anooj Shah says the team didn’t find any major differences in app usage between regions. “Everyone seems to love Rovio games, regardless of where they live,” he says. The company looked at this data during the holidays and then again in the new year to see if anything had changed.
During the holiday season, the company found that children were spending 51 percent more time in Angry Birds Star Wars, compared with Angry Birds, despite only having 40 percent of its install base. They spent 197 percent more time in the Star Wars version than Angry Birds Space, despite having only 57 percent of its install base.
The most popular games, in terms of time spent playing, were as follows:
In the beginning of January, usage changed slightly, and Kytephone saw an increase in Bad Piggies, which then moved to become the most addictive game. The top three games now remain Star Wars, Bad Piggies and the original Angry Birds.
Angry Birds Star Wars has an install base that’s 60 percent larger than Bad Piggies, Shah noted, and during the holidays it increased that base by 50 percent while Angry Birds Star Wars increased by 60 percent.
But in terms of hours spent playing, Bad Piggies wins as it’s played an average of 1.12 hours per install. Star Wars is a close second with 0.8 hours per install, and the original Angry Birds is played 0.27 hours per install.
These figures are a different way of looking at the kids’ mobile gaming market than those studies where only downloads or even “actives” are measured, because Kytephone’s rankings are based on how long kids are playing these games, not necessarily how often. But to be clear, they’re not representative of an overall mobile trend in children’s gaming, since Kytephone is currently an Android-only service. The iOS platform has a wider variety of games and kids’ apps, we should mention. In addition, Kytephone’s service is targeted at slightly older kids, because it’s for those who have their own Android device on loan from their parents. That is, it can’t tell what games kids play when they just “borrow” mom or dad’s phone for a few minutes, as many younger children do. It also misses out on the entire iPad gaming market, which a number of kid-friendly app makers have specifically targeted.
That being said, what these numbers do show that Rovio has managed to increase the stickiness and addictive nature of its games over time, at least in terms of children’s preferences.