I mentioned in my review of Tiny Tower that I felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t an end to the mindless toil in that particular game. I began to get that same sensation in Devil’s Attorney after moving into my second new apartment, I felt the familiar dread of buying another set of furniture and chintz and I considered giving it up.
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.
I mentioned before that Android and iOS were going to be threats to future Sony and Microsoft consoles (here). If you haven’t already taken note of the success of OUYA, the open source Android-based game console, the news they’ve secured over $1,000,000 in funding via Kickstarter in a little less than 24 hours should give you an indication that this is now something to take seriously.
This is different from the phone-based/DLNA route I thought might happen, and still might, but it is an interesting concept. If it is a major success, and we’re talking to be a major success this project would need to sell a lot more than the 8,000 consoles they’ve managed to sell on day one, for comparison the PS3 currently sells about 14,000 units a day and sold over 70,000 a day at its peak, then this would be a hugely significant development(1).
OUYA is like Steam, in that it is a software digital distribution and communication platform on top of Android so you won’t be able to play games you already own on your phone on the OUYA system. This begs the question, why not? From an OUYA point of view it makes perfect sense, they don’t want you jumping ship to another Android Console every five minutes, but as a consumer it seems a bit backward. As all OUYA games will have to have free-to-play elements (which could be as little as a demo) the pain of switching is lessened as you may not have invested a great deal of cash into the platform, but it is still a little disappointing that it isn’t as completely open as one might expect.
1. For further consideration, Android activates over 900,000 devices and Apple sell over 500,000 iOS devices a day. To paraphrase Mrs Merton – What attracted you to the low development costs and massive user base of iOS and Android gaming, Mr Developer?