Social gaming will be $5 billion industry by 2015, Parks Associates says

One billion dollars?
One billion dollars?

OK guys, we get it, social games are going to make lots of money in the next five years. I'm sorry, did you say $5 billion by 2015? Alright, now you've got me. Market research company Parks Associates predicts that by 2015, social games will be worth a sweet $5 billion thanks to in-game advertising and virtual goods sales. Their forecast is based off the fact the social games already raked in $1 billion in 2010 alone.

"Gaming on social networks has quickly become the most visible category of online games," research analyst at Parks Associates Pietro Macchiarella said. "Right now more than 250 million people play games like Zynga'sCityVille and FarmVille on Facebook every month, and both game developers and marketers have taken notice. Big brands such as McDonald's and 7-Eleven have carried out cross-promotions with existing social games."

And by social games, they generally mean Zynga, who has ran promotions with not only McDonald's and 7-Eleven, but even adult-oriented companies like Farmers Insurance. "The abilities to measure the efficacy of different gameplay mechanisms, to tweak game design in near-real time, and to test new models are advantages that traditional gaming companies will never have," Macchiarella said. "Zynga's huge market share is the best proof of the competitive advantage made possible by properly leveraging consumer data."