It’s Time to Build for the Next Generation of Gaming

While the world waits for Microsoft and Sony to release their next generation game consoles, the future of gaming is already here: apps!

Last week, Sony introduced their Playstation 4 to the world with much fanfare. However, their next-gen console is not going to even be available for sale until “late this year”. Luckily for budding game developers, next-gen game consoles are already here: iPads and iPods, Android and iPhone, to name a few. Smartphones and tablets are clearly usurping the once-thriving gaming console business.

According to IDC, 367 million “smart connected devices” were shipped in Q4 2012 alone. The numbers are rising, particularly for smartphones and tablets.

If you are interested in building a game, you really do need to focus on the mobile market. Android and iOS already have an install base as large as the global Windows install base. App markets for each platform provide an audience of potentially one billion, nearly each of whom are interested in game apps.

A joint gaming report by App Annie and IDC revealed just how large the potential for gaming apps. It also laid bare how games on smartphones and tablets are quickly pushing aside handheld gaming consoles, such as the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS3.

“A key takeaway from the report is that combined consumer spending on iOS App Store and Google Play games eclipsed that of dedicated handheld games in Q4. Dedicated handheld gaming showed particular seasonality; close to 60 percent of Q4 consumer spending on Nintendo and Sony handheld gaming software occurred in December, a significantly higher share than was the case for December iOS App Store or Google Play game spending.”

Spending on games for iOS and Android eclipsed the dedicated handheld market – and that doesn’t even include app ad revenues, another potential source of revenues for gaming app developers.

Perhaps even more surprising. iOS and Android gaming revenues are not only surpassing the once-massive dedicated handheld market, they are dominating the smartphone and tablet market as well. Gaming is responsible for the majority of app revenues on iOS and Android. This should probably not be a surprise. An astounding 20 billion games were downloaded last year by smartphones and tablets.

Last year, at the D10 Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked if Apple might build a game console, such as the Playstation or Xbox. Cook stated:

“I’m not interested in being in the console business in what is thought of as traditional gaming. But Apple is a big player today and things in the future will only make it bigger.”

Cook was spot on the money. The gaming industry is changing just as games themselves are changing. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can quickly download a game at a reasonable price and begin playing immediately. Games are becoming more social, more real-time, less immersive typically but with much more spur-of-the-moment playability.

The next-gen gaming console is already here – it’s your iPhone or Blackberry, Nexus tablet or Windows Phone. That’s your market.

About Brian Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at www.brianshall.com