You don’t have to dig very far in the gaming world to hear about the rise of phone and tablet based gaming and how it is damaging the world of traditional handheld gaming. However, even a cursory glance at the sales of the most notable handheld consoles and the most notable phone and tablets shows that actually the two of them can co-exist together quite peacefully.
Since its rise to popularity Apple’s Iphone have sold a combination of roughly 135 million units. The Ipad, since its inception, has sold over 15 million copies and the games for these systems have also sold healthily and have gone from strength to strength. With sales of such strength it would be easy to assume that handheld consoles may be being affected but, it is clear, that they are not. Combined sales of the DS series to date are over 149 million units, a number that, thanks to the 3DS, is rapidly increasing. It must be considered that this is compared to the combined sales of the Gameboy and Gameboy Colour of 118 million and the sales of the Game Boy Advance, Sp and Micro of 81 million. These figures then would suggest that actually, for Nintendo at least, the handheld market is growing regardless of smart phones and tablets.
Not as evil as people think.
Likewise Sony seem to have been relatively unaffected by phone and tablet based gaming, the PSP, their first foray into the world of handheld gaming, has sold over 71 million units, not bad for a first attempt. Whilst the Vita is not currently selling so well blaming this on phone based gaming is simply lazy, I don’t doubt that Ipad owners show little interest in the Vita and 3DS but this is to be expected, gamers will want to buy handheld consoles whilst phone fans and general tech fans will be more inclined to buy tablets and phones, the two types of gaming cater for different audiences, audiences that can easily live together. Even within my family, there are two of us who play handheld games on a DS and a PSP and two of us who use Ipad’s and Ipod Touches. They all sell well and the two of them can co-exist.
So the next time people try to blame poor sales figures on the rise of phone and tablet based gaming consider the fact that handheld sales have never been better and that the technology and games involved are going from strength to strength, they aren’t in their death throes, they aren’t even close. Just because the guy in the seat next to you with his Ipad shows no interest in your shiny new Vita or 3DS doesn’t mean the Vita or 3DS are doomed, it just means he wants different things from his device and if he does want to play games he might not care if they’re fully fledged games in the traditional sense that we have grown to know and love on traditional handheld’s.