Tech Biz

App Store and Google Play Gaming Revenues Crush 3DS, Vita Spending

Consumer spending on iOS and Android games pushes traditional handhelds to third place.

J.T. Quigley

Nintendo and Sony are rapidly losing ground in the worldwide portable gaming market as consumers opt for downloadable games on smartphones and tablets. A new report from IDC and App Annie has revealed that gamers are spending four times as much money on App Store and Google Play downloads than they do on titles for handheld consoles like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS.

While Apple maintains a significant lead in consumer spending on games, the report also indicated that Google Play has moved into second place for the second quarter of 2013. It is the first time that gaming-optimized handhelds have been behind both iOS and Android-powered smartphones and tablets.

“App Annie notes that games continue to lead app store growth, and during the second quarter of 2013, games represented approximately 40 percent of downloads from both Google Play and the App Store. Game sales in both app stores grew a significant amount from the Q1 2013 to Q2 2013 and represented 70 percent of total app revenue in both the App Store and Google Play,” said MacRumors.

Google’s increase gaming profits can be attributed to the expansion of Google Play into 130 new countries – the online marketplace was only available in 30 at the beginning of 2011. Developers have also been attracted to the Android platform because they can outsource features like cloud-based saves and online multiplayer to Google’s gaming servers. Android managed to increase its worldwide gaming market share by 1.6 percent between the first and second quarter of this year.

With an estimated 1.25 billion smartphones and 180 million tablets in the hands of consumers – versus a mere 200 million gaming-optimized handhelds – it is no surprise that platforms like the 3DS and Vita have struggled to compete. Although console games cost much more than App Store or Google Play downloads, smartphones and tablets have them beat through sheer volume – coupled with the propensity for a casual user to not think twice about a $1.99 impulse buy on a game they just happened to stumble upon in either of the virtual marketplaces.

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In-app purchases also compliment the low-cost or “free-to-play” gaming sales, although the reported figures do not include in-app advertising fees.

Nintendo and Sony have taken note of the shift in spending. At this week’s Gamescom trade show, Sony announced that the PlayStation Vita could have its price reduced to $199. According to AppleInsider, “Nintendo, meanwhile, has taken to courting developers in hopes of bringing some of the best-selling mobile OS games over to its touch-capable Wii U and portable 3DS.”