Disruption in the Gaming Industry – The Challenge of Smartphones and Tablets to Handheld Gaming Consoles
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Disruption in the Gaming Industry – The Challenge of Smartphones and Tablets to Handheld Gaming Consoles

By Ajith Sankaran and Ishma Siddiqi

Smartphones and tablets are slowly eating into the space occupied by handheld gaming devices.  According to a new study conducted by ABI Research[1], both Nintendo and Sony are expected to ship over 38 million portable gaming devices in 2013. The 38 million-unit shipment in 2013 is a dramatic fall from the 47 million-unit shipments in 2008. Research firms IDC and App Annie[2] reported that in Q4 of 2012, sales figures from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store topped sales from dedicated gaming portables like the Sony PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo 3DS.

The pressure from smartphones and tablets on the gaming industry is forcing companies like Sony and Nintendo to reevaluate the demand for dedicated gaming handheld devices in the future.

Reasons Why Mobile Devices are Eating Into The Gaming Market

  • Device capabilities have improved/keep improving significantly
  • Huge range, choice and easy availability through app stores
  • Lower price points enabled by “free” games, $ 1 price points and lower priced handsets
  • Phone and tablets are always with you
  • Phones and tablets have taken handheld gaming to the young adults and even to older age groups
  • Social media gaming on smartphones and tablets is on the rise

Despite all this, all is not lost for the handheld console vendors. The reality, though, is that until mobile phones get exclusive big-budget, AAA games, which is unlikely as it stands today, majority of core audiences who continue to help those games sell will stick with home consoles.

Furthermore, handled consoles will still be relevant to kids. For more on this topic, please read our Whitepaper

[1] Source: Handheld Gaming Devices in Downward Spiral to Niche Status Thanks to Tablets and Mobile Devices,ABI Research, July 7 2012

[2] Source: App Annie & IDC Portable Gaming Report, Feb 21, 2013

Ajith Sankaran
Ajith Sankaran
Ajith has over 21 years of experience in analytics, market intelligence and business consulting, and manages delivery for Course5’s analytics and insights businesses leading a...
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