I've a question for those of you who are gamers. When's the last time
you picked up your PS Vita Or Nintendo 3DS? Can't remember? Alright,
next question: When was the last time you played a game on your
Smartphone. You're playing one right now, aren't you?
You're not alone.
Turns out, PCs aren't the only technology being phased out by smartphones. According to a report published by analytics firm App Annie, gamers all across the world are increasingly setting aside their Nintendo 3DS's and PlayStation Vitas in favor of their iPhones and Droids. Both the iOS App Store and Google Play experienced a significant surge in game revenue in 2013, putting them well ahead of handheld consoles. Combined, revenue from both Google and Apple was three times that of the game-optimized handheld market, which has been suffering a steady decline.
In short, smartphone and tablet gaming has officially taken over the mobile games market. This is the first time in history such a thing has happened - previously, the games industry was one of the few sectors where smartphones didn't dominate. What could have brought about this change?
Ironically enough, part of it is the fact that smartphones offer more than simply games.
""Smartphones' 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,"explained App Annie VP of Corporate Communications Marcos Sanchez. "Add apps that are fun and engaging, and that deeper penetration can equate to big dollars for game app developers."
I suspect there's another reason, as well. Handheld consoles are powerful, don't get me wrong - the PS Vita might be one of the most powerful handhelds on the market at the time of writing - but the technology driving smartphones and tablets is growing steadily more advanced, and the gulf in performance between phone and console is growing smaller. Already, we've got phones that can easily outperform the previous generation of handhelds; before long, they might be able to do the same with the current one.
This news comes right on the tail end of Nintendo's dismal nine-month financial report and the subsequent announcement from president Satoru Iwata that Nintendo's top executives would be taking a significant pay cut in order to bring the company back into the red. It's unclear how much of an impact the smartphone market had on Nintendo's diving profits, though; the weaker-than-expected financial results were blamed on poor Wii U console sales. Given that the Wii U serves an entirely different demographic from smartphone games, it's not likely there's much of a connection.
That said, it's likely Nintendo's finally started to see the writing on the wall where mobile is concerned. With the Wii U already ailing, they can't really afford to lose out on mobile sales, as well. With that in mind, it perhaps doesn't come as much of a surprise that the developer announced at today's investor relations conference that it intends to move forward with the development of smartphone apps, giving the development team in charge of the initiative the opition of making games and more freely licensing out its characters to third parties.
We are, it seems, living in an age where disruptive technology has become the norm. The Internet, Social Media, and Smartphones together have all changed the way we communicate and connect with the world. Now, they're changing the way we game, as well. This is the first time in history we've seen the mobile games market outperform the handheld games market, and it's a trend I expect full well to continue through 2014.
So, if you can't remember the last time you picked up your 3DS or PS Vita, but you just finished playing Angry Birds on your iPhone, you aren't alone. You're part of a fast-growing camp of gamers, both casual and hardcore, who've decided that the best way to go mobile is simply to use their phone.