Report: Mobile Games Are More Profitable Than Handheld Titles

on November 9, 2011 7:30 PM

Fifty-eight percent.

That’s the share of the North American portable market mobile games will hold by year’s end, according to mobile analytic group Flurry. Using NPD data, the firm has concluded that Nintendo’s DS and 3DS lines and the PlayStation Portable will end the calendar year with 36 percent and 6 percent of the US portable market, respectively.

The usage of mobile software has grown considerably in the last couple of years, Flurry reports. From holding a 19-percent share of the portable market in 2009 and 34 percent in 2010, the wide adoption of iOS and Android devices is quickly consuming the portable games market with no signs of slowing down.

Compare mobile platforms’ share of the market in 2009 to Nintendo’s 70 percent and Sony’s 11 percent the same year and, yeah, the two major handheld manufacturers have got quite the mess on their hands. More numbers to come after the jump.

Games software on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms garnered $500 million and $800 million in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and is expected to pull in approximately $1.9 billion by the end of December. Sony’s and Nintendo’s handheld sales combined were approximately $2.2 billion in 2009, a number expected to go as low as $1.4 billion for 2011, according to Flurry.

Consider the cost of each platform and the numbers aren’t surprising in the least. Nintendo sells dedicated gaming hardware for an average of $150. Sony’s PSP, while integrating multimedia capabilities, sports a similar price point but is still a system custom-made for entertainment purposes.

Android and iOS platforms, on the other hand, are installed on devices their users purchase for communication purposes and to manage other aspects of their lives. The gaming capability is an afterthought in the consumer’s eyes, even if it is a popular one.

The biggest reason I jumped at the opportunity to own an iPhone when Verizon announced it was carrying the device — God rest your soul, Fox McCloud. That’s right, I named my iPhone — was that it would allow me to ditch the iPod Classic I carried everywhere. “One less thing in my pocket,” I thought at the time.

While Sony is moving toward integrating more features in its portable devices, Nintendo holds the old “It’s a gaming platform above anything else” philosophy, which worked for the Wii and DS, but might not be such a smart move in the future. After all, the thing that made both of The Big N’s endeavors in 2005 and 2006 so successful was that they offered consumers an experience unique for the time, but nowadays everyone’s got motion control and touchscreen interfaces built into their hardware.

Software sold at 99 cents on mobile platforms is also a steal compared to the $35-plus you’ll spend on a new Nintendo title. Add that to the fact that plenty of apps have free trial versions and the picture gets a bit bleaker for Ninty.

Take a look at the chart below and tell us: do you think the 3DS, PSP and PlayStation Vita are the last of a dying breed?

Thanks to Gamasutra for the tip.



Report: Mobile Games Are More Profitable Than Handheld Titles

 /  Staff Writer
Eder is a journalism major at the University of Oregon and copy chief of Flux, the School of Journalism and Communication's flagship magazine. When he's not playing video games or writing about them, Eder enjoys going to concerts, walking the UO campus with his trusty iPod, James McCloud, and climbing steep hills in running shoes. His favorite games include Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country 2, Bioshock and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.