Casual gamers opting for smartphones over dedicated gaming handhelds

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We’ve already seen that the new generation of handheld gaming consoles is suffering, with the 3DS just not selling nearly as well as anticipated. It’s picked up recently, mostly thanks to the release of the pretty damned wonderful Super Mario 3D Land – but still pales to Nintendo’s original expectations. Could the same sort of lacklustre sales performance be in store for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Vita?

A new survey suggests that could be the case.

"Over the last five years, the penetration of dedicated handheld platforms into survey respondents self-identifying as casual gamers has declined by 29 per cent, with the vast majority of that decline occurring in the last two years," says a new report by by analysts Cowen and Company, reported by GI.biz

"We believe cellphone and smartphone gaming is significantly impacting demand for dedicated handheld devices."

Of those who partook in the survey, only 37 per cent gamed on a dedicated handheld device, with 52 per cent played on their phones.

"We do not view the decline of casual handheld gaming as a particular problem for the US publishers, as they have migrated their exposure away from dedicated handheld platforms, and in some cases (particularly EA) have invested significantly in phone and tablet platform game development." "However, “ the report concludes, “we do view this trend as a negative one for Sony and especially Nintendo."

Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. Most people carry their phones with them all the time, but only pack in handhelds when they know they’ll be travelling. There’s also the price of mobile games – generally between free and 5 dollars for most smartphone games, as opposed to 40 for proper handheld titles. And while I do think that more and more people are turning to their phones for quick, easy on-the-go gaming, there will always be a market for more traditional handheld platforms.

Last Updated: November 21, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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