updated 01:50 pm EST, Wed November 9, 2011
Flurry shows Apple and Google in control of games
Smartphone OS platforms from Apple and Google now make up the majority of mobile game revenue in the US, Flurry said in a new study. Both year-to-date figures and estimates give Android and iOS a combined 58 percent of money spent on games in 2011. Nintendo would now be a minority by a significant margin, at 36 percent, while Sony's PSP would be just six percent.
Just a year earlier, Nintendo had been in the positions of Apple and Google, with 57 percent, and had been at 70 percent in 2009. Combined, Nintendo and Sony have dropped from a combined $2.2 billion of game revenue in 2009 down to $!.4 billion in 2011. Smartphone platforms, meanwhile, had tripled their share in two years.
The turned tables were underscored by the wide gap in pricing. A typical new DS or PSP game costs $30 to $40, often the price of three or more high-end Android, iPhone, or iPad games. As such, Android and iOS gaining the upperhand meant that they were shipping many more games through their download stores than the revenue alone would suggest.
Researchers attributed the change to not just the pricing but to a more aggressive approach to hardware. Nintendo and Sony together have still largely been following the traditional, slow pattern of releasing major system updates once every few years. iOS and Android platforms usually get significant speed updates at least once a year. At similar device prices and often with a similar focus on casual gaming, there was little incentive to go with the DS or PSP, especially as iOS and Android devices could often do much more than games.
With Nintendo facing its first yearly loss in 31 years, Flurry reiterated a previous view that Nintendo's Mario was standing on the same burning platform as Nokia and had to consider jumping off or risking its death.
Nintendo is counting mostly on a price-cut 3DS and higher-profile games in the near future. Sony, in turn, is leaning on the PS Vita's temporary speed advantage to get PS3-level games when it arrives in February.