Digital user growth in Western markets is slowing down. With smartphone penetration in the US and UK already around 80%, few new people are coming online. Average revenue per user is high in these countries, but this has created an environment of tough competition and led to increasing acquisition costs.
Without expansion, merchants face the risk of becoming snakes eating their own tails. Competing in a closed environment with other companies that provide similar services drives up marketing budgets. At the same time, returns diminish as there are fewer new users to acquire.
Unlike Western markets, the digital ecosystem in emerging economies continues to grow. India is set to overtake the US in smartphone ownership by 2017. SuperDataResearch estimates that digital gaming spending grew by 67% in Asia Pacific and 60% in the Middle East & North Africa in 2015. Meanwhile, the growth is only at 21% in Europe and 13% in North America.