The handheld video games market is being killed off by the smartphone sector, metrics firm Flurry Analytics believes.
It claims that in 2009 the iOS and Android games software market accounted for 19 per cent of the total $2.7bn handheld and mobile games market in the US. In 2001 it claimed a 58 per cent share of the $3.3bn market.
"It's really sort the biggest content revolution that we've ever seen,” Flurry’s EMEA MD Richard Firminger told a GDC Europe audience, as reported by Gamasutra. “It's exciting and it shows that indies can kill a very, very established market."
The claims come after Sony wowed Gamescom last night with a presentation packed with original ideas that focused very heavily on the struggling Vita handheld.
However, all the creativity in the world may still fall short of what’s required to even begin challenging the iPhones and Androids of this world.
Crucially, both Vita and 3DS fall short of smartphone gaming in three key areas.
Firstly, portability: A smartphone user nearly always has their phone to hand. It’s in their pocket or unobtrusively sitting in their handbag. It’s there, it’s small, it’s always in use and its convenient. Carrying a second, larger dedicated gaming device is always a choice and not a default.
Secondly, accessibility: Smartphones are arguably the most user friendly devices on the market. Give a smartphone to a child and they can use it, as if by instinct. Give them a joypad and you get a very different reaction.
Thirdly, and most crucially, content: Whether you’re accessing the internet, reading your emails or browsing the App Store, smartphones are easy and they’re fast. Furthermore, the content is either free or comparatively very cheap. Sony and Nintendo can focus on “snack sized” game development all they like – this will never be replicated on systems designed around physical storage cards and triple-A software catalogues.