Is it sensible for the gaming press to largely ignore the stupendous growth in mobile gaming?
VGChartz publishes a weekly digest of video game hardware and software sales (here for the latest numbers), but it is limited to the big three console manufacturers and doesn’t take into account the iPhone, Android or windows platforms. Perhaps the reason for this is that it is difficult to quantify the amount of use a mobile phone or tablet is actually dedicated to gaming. As hybrid devices they are not going to be used purely for games, but surely some method of measurement should be attempted?
The reason I make this fuss is that it bothers me to see the market share graphs that VGChartz produces. The 3DS and PS Vita are put head to head and it is clear that the 3DS is streets ahead of the competition, selling 35,000 units a day compared to a paltry 6,000 units for the Vita. These sales figures give the 3DS a market share of 85% to the Vita’s 15%.
The really interesting thing is that these two figures are absolutely dwarfed by the sales of iPhone and Android devices that are nearly in the two million activation’s a day range (478,000 per day iOS, based on quarterly sales of 43 Million, and 1.3 million Android activations a day). Looking at market share in those terms, Android has a 71% market share, iOS sits at 26%, the 3DS has less than 2% and the Vita is struggling to reach 0.5%. That’s a 40 to 1 difference in sales between portable and mobile gaming.
The counter argument is that mobile phones aren’t pure gaming devices, so you can’t compare like with like. The reality is that 9 out of 10 of the most popular apps on iOS are games. It is difficult to see on Android, but the top 10 on the Google Play Store at the moment is made up of 5 utilities and 5 games. Even if we say that mobile phones are only being used for games 20% of the time, and adjust the sales figures accordingly, they still trounce portable games by a factor of 9 to 1.
To put this into further perspective, even at the height of the Nintendo DS’s popularity, Christmas 2008, it only sold an average of 132,000 units a day, 10% of the current sales of Android devices…
The portable king is dead, long live the mobile king.