Experts who look at mobile gaming generally compare it to big name consoles such as the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. In reality, mobile gaming is a much more intimate platform, and one which is highly portable and transient. It’s one that generally transcends specific devices because the games themselves work on either Android, iOS or any of the myriad mobile gaming specific devices which includes the likes of Nintendo 3DS, 2DS, and DSi as well as the PS Vita and the PSP.
A new study from App Annie shows that mobile gaming is on an unimaginable rise while handheld gaming seems to be cooling down. Let’s check it out!
1. Android is still leading the way in tablets and smartphones
Android increased in market share by a startling 8.4% since Q2 of 2013 and that puts it up to over 70% of the market share overall. iOS fell 1.9% and all others (Symbian, Windows Phone, etc) fell a total of 6.4%.
It’s fairly obvious what this slide shows. Android is still cleaning house in terms of market share.
2. Handheld gaming consoles are not fairing so well
It’s quite clear here that people are buying fewer games for their handheld gaming consoles across the board. Nintendo and Sony both saw drops in digitally purchased and downloaded games as well as physical copies of games (the graph shows both of these combined). All handheld gaming console sales dropped a reported 27% from Q2 of 2013 to Q2 of 2014.
It would have made sense if it were actual game console shipments. Handheld consoles don’t renew every year like smartphones do, so if you were to have bought one several years ago then you would most likely still have it. However, actual game sales themselves are dropping too which means fewer people feel engaged enough with newer content to buy games for these consoles.
3. Despite growth, games only accounted for the same percentage overall
Game downloads accounted for more or less the same percentage of downloads compared to regular apps overall on both Google Play and the Apple App Store from this time last year. They also accounted for more or less the same percentage of revenue. The Google Play Store saw a small increase while the App Store saw a very slight decrease.
No real takeaway here. Steady as she goes. Slight fluctuations occur all the time so any increase or decrease that small is not indicative of real growth but usually just trends that range month to month. It’s interesting that the mammoth growth has managed only a slight difference in revenue and download market share. This means that regular apps have been experiencing growth, as well.
4. Mobile phone gaming goes up, handheld console gaming goes down
Google Play gaming revenue is up over 70% from last year and the Apple App Store isn’t far behind. On the flip side, handheld gaming dropped 28%.
A lot of people would argue that correlation doesn’t equal causation. There are a lot of reasons why these stats could be happening. Mobile phone gaming is getting better while handheld gaming hasn’t made any gigantic strides in the last few years. People may be playing games on phones more because a person’s phone is always with them whereas handheld game consoles require you carry around a second device. It is most likely all of the above and more. Usually when drops and rises happen like this, there is no one direct cause or correlation but rather many causes which may lead to a few correlations.
5. Asia helps out iOS, Western Europe helps out Android
For iOS, Asia-Pacific gained 8.6% in the overall revenue market share for gaming. On Android, Western Europe gained 2.8%. On handheld consoles, Western Europe gained 1% of the revenue market share.
Weirdly enough, Asia-Pacific gained in iOS and actually lost on the other two platforms. This is almost certainly due to a higher presence of
Apple in Asia over the last year. The Asia-Pacific region is the market share leader on the other two platforms so it’s only natural that it turns into the market share leader on Apple as well.
6. Same stuff, different platform
The same three games are the top grossing titles on both Android and iOS. Three out of the five handheld console games have changed from Q1 of 2014 to Q2 of 2014. Moreover, nine out of ten titles that grace the top five in Android and iOS mobile gaming were also there last month with Monster Strike being the only new game to hit the top ten this year. Meanwhile, handheld consoles saw a much greater variance in popular games.
There are two big things here and how you take them really depends on your point of view. In terms of handheld gaming consoles, three out of the five games are different. That means between Q1 of 2014 and Q2 of 2014, new titles were released and people bought them. On the other hand, the only new game on either iOS and Android was Monster Strike on Android. If you’re an optimist, you’re likely thinking that this is a testament to the strength of the top games on mobile.
If you’re a pessimist, you’re looking at how static that list is and how dynamic the handheld console list is. It could indicate a lack of serious competition. More likely it speaks to the difficulty of other apps to be discovered. It also speaks how mobile phone games can go ridiculously viral and handheld console games do not.
The overall takeaway
Here are the key takeaways from this study.
- Gaming revenues have exploded on both iOS and Android in the last year. iOS is up over 70% while Android has doubled. Since their revenue market share hasn’t been affected hardly at all, we can also conclude that app revenue has also been going up by a pretty significant amount.
- iOS continues to outpace Android in terms of gaming revenue in the United States by more than double. Meanwhile, Android is still outpacing iOS in the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, iOS is still making more overall.
- Handheld gaming has a much more varied trend of popular games from quarter to quarter than mobile games. On mobile, nine of the ten top games have been nine of the ten top games for half a year.
- Handheld gaming has definitely taken a palpable hit in revenue. There is no proof that mobile gaming’s sudden explosion is the complete cause but we’re sure it had something to do with it.
- According to App Annie, the handheld games that are schedule to launch in the second half of 2014 should bolster sales but we don’t anticipate them making up for the mammoth amount of lost ground.
It’s interesting to see both mobile platforms finally start to mature as gaming platforms in terms of revenue. If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!