IDC Mobile/Portable Gaming Forecast Finds That Paying Smartphone and Tablet Gamers Will Surpass the Number of Paying Gaming-Optimized Handheld Gamers This Year

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., April 24, 2013 – International Data Corporation (IDC) today published the Worldwide Gaming-Optimized Handheld, Smartphone, and Tablet Gaming 2013–2017 Forecast, a comprehensive report on the current state and future direction of smartphone, tablet, and gaming-optimized handheld (GOH) hardware and software. The forecast details the outlook for Apple, Google/Android, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and a wide range of game developers and publishers from a mobile and portable gaming perspective through 2017.

The GOH market category, typified by Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's PlayStation Vita, has recently been overshadowed by gaming-capable smartphones and tablets and this trend is likely to continue. IDC research shows, for example, that the number of paying smartphone and tablet gamers will surpass the number of paying GOH gamers worldwide in 2013 and rise at a rapid rate through 2017. The number of GOH bundles shipped, meanwhile, should fall at an average of nearly 7% per year over the next five years. The installed base of GOH's is being overwhelmed by smartphones and tablets that are used for (primarily casual) gaming.

If there's a silver lining for devices like the 3DS and Vita it's that the GOH category should lead in a crucial metric through 2017: average revenue per user (ARPU). Total mobile/portable gaming revenue, including digital and packaged game software, GOH hardware bundles, and direct advertising revenue going to platform suppliers and game developers/publishers, is forecast to approach $23 billion in 2017.

"Android remains quite fragmented but the platform is on its way to becoming a massively popular gaming platform in Asia/Pacific in particular," says Lewis Ward, research manager of IDC's Connected Consumer: Gaming service. "In order for Nintendo's and Sony's gaming-optimized handhelds to remain ahead of smartphones and tablets on key metrics such as ARPU, these companies and their game card developer and publisher partners will have to redouble their efforts in a number of respects. Digital distribution has reached an inflection point in mobile and portable gaming, and future success will largely boil down to finding a unique balance of freemium business model excellence and that ability to deliver compelling social experiences."

The IDC report, Worldwide Gaming-Optimized Handheld, Smartphone, and Tablet Gaming 2013–2017 Forecast (IDC #240600), includes regional breakdowns for North America, Western Europe, Asia/Pacific, and a combined rest of the world region. Global metrics forecast in the study include paying gamers, device installed bases, hardware and software ASPs, ARPU, and total hardware and software revenue.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 49 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.