With one in five people in the world owning a smartphone and one in 17 owning a tablet, gamers are beginning to favour these devices over traditional handheld console games. According to a report by App Annie and the IDC, content on the iOS App Store and Google Play experienced a surge in revenue last year, which resulted in their combined spending clock in at three times higher than optimised-handhelds, such as the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, at the end of the third quarter of 2013.
Analysts are already explaining this shift in gaming behaviour, citing the practicality of the devices, affordability of app titles and far wider range of content as reasons for players opting for their smartphones. App Annie’s VP of Corporate Communications, Marcos Sanchez said:
“Smartphone’s ease of use, low price point (due to subsidies), and multi-functional use as gaming and primary communications device have given them a ubiquity across a broad demographic that portable consoles will never have. Add apps that are fun and engaging, and that deeper penetration can equate to big dollars for game app developers.”
The mobile platform has opened up opportunities for developing firms to make hit titles for relatively low costs. There is large profit to be made from successes as well, with King’s Candy Crush Saga pulling in around £90,000 per day. The market is even attracting online and console releases as well, with Rock Star Games launching GTA titles on mobile and casino sites like Full Tilt releasing apps such as Rush Poker.
Although the rise in mobile gaming may be a positive thing for developers and consumer alike, it is continuing to threat major hardware developers. With Nintendo experiencing disappointing sales figures on the Wii U, they are heavily relying on the success of their DS range to bolster their future plans. However, they are coming under increasing pressure from shareholders and critics to take advantage of the mobile market and release their software titles to smartphone and tablet users.
Similarly, Sony has noticed a considerable shift in the gaming market, which is having an impact on sales. Fergal Gara, the UK Managing Director said: “The market Vita entered was more complicated than it was when the console was originally thought about and designed. Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace and people can’t carry too many things around at one time.
“The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience (that the PS Vita offers) is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game on the move.”