The Future of Portable Gaming

What is the future of portable gaming? Over two decades ago, Game Boy defined the market and has sold over 100 million units since. The Game Boy crushed all who stood before it—namely, Game Gear—and has been the king of the hill through its various incarnations for years.

Sony’s PSP came along with its fancy hardware and graphics capabilities, uprooting incumbent Nintendo as the master of portable gaming. Nintendo recently fought back with the DS and 3DS, garnering strong support early. Is this the future of portable gaming? An arms race between two giant corporations?

Let me show you something that Flurry Analytics released two days ago:


From 2009 to 2010, iOS and Android captured another 3% of the U.S. video game market, equating to roughly an additional $300 million to total $800 million. Flurry estimates the PC market at $700 million, meaning the mobile gaming market has overtaken the PC market for the first time. I don’t expect that to change again, and here’s why:


The market for portable gaming software has actually SHRUNK, going from $2.7 billion in 2009 to $2.4 billion in 2010. It clearly has something to do with mobile gaming platforms; maybe it is because of the emergence and inclusion of the Android market, or perhaps it is the mountain of 99 cent games on the app store and digital distribution. Mobile gaming has actually increased over 60% during this same time period, feasting on a greater portion of the Portable Gaming Pie.

You should have learned two things from this:

  1. Angry Birds is responsible for global warming,
  2. Smartphones are a legitimate gaming platform.

If you have not explored the App Store or Android Market yet, then you may also be the 1 billionth person to join Facebook and just discovered bacon is the sixth food group. Embrace the future!

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  • While I’ve definitely downloaded free apps and games like Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio on Android, I still and will continue to purchase Nintendo portables. The reason is for Nintendo’s first party exclusive games as well as a bunch of in depth RPGs that are unavailable on smart phones due to lack of buttons. I believe Android and iOS platforms will coexist with Nintendo and Sony much like how PC gaming coexist with consoles. Of course iOS will continue to lose market share due to Android, but that’s a different story. The countless stories of how dedicated gaming portable will become obsolete is based on a flawed ideal. It can’t be compared to dedicated devices like point and shoot cameras or MP3 players because those are so simple. Gaming is sophisticated and smartphone will never overtake dedicated portable because they were not built for deep gaming. If anything it can own the casual market.