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Handheld gaming devices losing ground to tablets and smartphones

By Aldo Panessidi

According to a new study by ABI Research, the demand for handheld gaming devices has been on the decline since 2008. The numbers will probably be flat through 2017, but demand will continue for the devices, probably as a niche market. The study reports that both the Sony and Nintendo gaming platforms are losing ground as more gaming apps are developed for cell phones and tablets – devices with a growing market share.

Gaming Market Segmentation

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Another report authored by NewZoo - Mobile Games Trend Report found that of 60,000,000... 49% of console gamers play games on their cell phone while 33% play on their tablets.    The uptake of tablets is having its impact on games, from a consumer as well as a business perspective. Of the 60 million console gaming tablet users, an average 42% already plays games on mobile device screens.  View an interesting Infographic on the usage of cell phones and tablets for gaming.

Gaming Market Share

Key Take-Aways

Fresh 2012 data

  • Number of Mobile Gamers jumps 35% in US year-on-year totaling 100 million
  • The US counts 21 million tablet gamers
  • Growth in EU, based on five countries is lower: 15% or 70 million mobile gamers
  • Share of in-game spending continues to rise: 90% in US, 79% in Europe for both iPhone and iPad.
  • 4.2 million iOS games are downloaded per day in the US. 2.4 million in key EU territories. Review 2011 data
  • Share of mobile gamers that spends money is highest in Asia (47%) followed by the US (36%).
  • Europe and Emerging markets show lower “conversion” at 26%.
  • A slight majority of paying mobile gamers is male. 58% in US, 65% in EU.
  • 22% of American mobile gamers use mobile games as extension of a game played on a different platform.

 

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While both Sony and Nintendo are expected to ship more than 38 million handheld gaming devices in 2013, that’s significantly lower than the 47 million that were sold at the peak of their popularity in 2008.

Here’s what senior ABI analyst Michael Inouye said about the future of the gaming device market: “Mobile devices will compete with dedicated handheld gaming devices, but select consumer segments like core gamers and those individuals who do not want or have a smartphone or tablet will still provide some demand,” “The addition of mobile gaming is not necessarily a zero sum situation; in fact, many feel there is plenty of room in the gaming market for both portable and mobile gaming.”

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