Sorry, Nintendo, Sony: Phone games win more dollars


Five years ago when you talked about portable or mobile gaming, it meant you were talking about Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable. (s sne) Today, mobile gaming means Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja and other extremely popular and free or very inexpensive smartphone games. IOS and Android have tripled their market share in games since 2009. But it’s not just number of individual game sales on iOS and Android devices that’s growing. The two platforms’ games are affecting the bottom lines of the biggest names in gaming.

On Wednesday, analytics company Flurry Mobile released statistics that show that games on the top two smartphone platforms combined, iOS (s AAPL) and Android (s GOOG), are bringing in more U.S. revenue than traditional portable gaming leaders Sony and Nintendo for the first time ever. Games on Apple and Android mobile platforms will bring in $1.9 billion in U.S. sales this year, while Sony and Nintendo’s games will account for $1.4 billion.

It’s a drastic change that’s happened pretty rapidly in the space of just two years, as the chart below shows:

In 2009, portable gaming revenue in the U.S. was worth $2.7 billion. Sony and Nintendo, whose portable devices play games that can cost between $5 and $40, accounted for over 80 percent of mobile game revenue. Android and iOS games are usually free, 99 cents or, occasionally, a few dollars more. They made  pretty big dent in 2010 by grabbing 34 percent of the revenue of $2.5 billion, but the major damage was done this year. By the end of 2011, Flurry says mobile game revenue in the U.S. will equal $3.3 billion, and iOS and Android will account for 58 percent of that, compared to Sony’s 6 percent, and Nintendo’s 36 percent.

Sony and Nintendo’s sources of revenue are not limited to portable games since they still have console gaming. However they should probably be a little nervous: Apple and Google both have entered the living room space, with Apple TV and Google TV. And it’s probably not too long before each device gets a gaming strategy of some kind.


Lindsworth Horatio Deer

So true. I call it the Post-Portable Gaming era (tipping ht to Apple CEO Steve jobs!!!). Same thing is happening in the Portable Gaming Console world as in the Laptop and Netbook world, which are slowly going extinct and being replaced by Tablets and smartphones, the main kilers of portable gaming systems.


For big developers, there still isn’t any real money in iOS or Android. With iOS/Android the money is split among thousands of developers were as with DS/PSP the money is split among only a few dozen.

Takes EA’s biggest franchises for example, they typically only sale a few hundred thousand for a few bucks each on iOS/Android. If EA can make a few million they are lucky. Were as with DS/PSP they sale millions of copies usually for $30 – $40. Even when entering the development cost (much lower on iOS/Android) there still not very profitable.

Big companies think BIG profits, & right now in all industries digital money is still peanuts compared to the old world (even music).

Matt Sharper

not really unless your game is a AAA title you aint selling millions..

Moe Drifter Menace Hunter

Im so sick to death of hearing this absolute shit about tablet and mobile fone gaming thy aint games there time ticklers ten mins max ppl stay on there but when ppl want real games they get out the ds or psp so hush

Steve K

My son is a nascent game programmer and I keep telling him that there’s a market in mobile apps. I think your opinion is more of a hard core gamers, similar to his. It’s often said that success is when opportunity meets preparedness. But there needs to be awareness of the opportunity.

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