Eric Johnson

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Google Play Skates Into Second Place in Mobile Gamer Spending, Past Nintendo and Sony’s Handhelds

apple android skate

CC BY 2.0, original image courtesy University of WIsconsin Digital Collections

It’s official: Worldwide consumer spending on Google Play games has surpassed spending on games for the two main handheld consoles, Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita.

That’s according to a new report out this morning from IDC and App Annie, the Q2 Portable Gaming Spotlight.

Mobile gamer dollars are still by and large going to Apple, as this indexed chart from the report, embedded below, shows. At least on a symbolic level, Google Play pushing Nintendo and Sony down into third place suggests that Google’s games strategy is on the right track.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 5.35.22 PM

In an interview two weeks ago, Google Play’s lead project manager Greg Hartrell told AllThingsD that three out of four Android users play games. He attributed growing Android revenues to three main factors: The expansion of Google Play into a total of 130 countries, up from 30 in early 2011; developers outsourcing features like cloud saving and multiplayer to Google’s game services so they can focus more on the game; and new ways to collect revenue from users, like direct carrier billing.

As before, the mobile versus handheld contest is a matter of volume versus premium pricing. There are a total of 1.25 billion smartphones and 180 million tablets out there, according to the report, versus a global install base of 200 million handheld consoles. But games for the latter cost more and consequently generate much more revenue per user, on average.

The report says Android devices increased their market share lead by 1.6 points between Q1 and Q2 of this year, but shipments of 3DSes and Vitas also rose. Revenue from handheld games, as the above chart shows, was down.

The important question going forward is if and how much mobile is actively cannibalizing purchases made on handheld consoles. IDC analyst Lewis Ward said that he recently ran a survey of 1,500 gamers — separate from today’s report — about what devices they own:

… Among owners of a Nintendo or Sony handheld, 16 percent already owned an Android smartphone, 6 percent owned an Android tablet, 6 percent owned an iPad, 12 percent owned an iPod Touch and 7 percent owned an iPhone. Now, some of these people own more than one of these device types, but it also implies that perhaps 40% of Nintendo and Sony GOH owners in the US already own (and probably game on) an Android or iOS device.


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