iOS and Android have gained 15% of the portable gaming market in the past year, but their 2009 figures did not account for tablet PCs, meaning that part of this jump may simply be the introduction of a new device to the market. Part of it may also simply be a temporary trend: the same report shows an inexplicable 4% move from portable games to console games. Any way you slice the pie, Nintendo is thus far still in the lead in the portable gaming market. The theory that $1 games are eclipsing traditional game sales is just that at this point; the only credence it deserves is that cell phones are becoming increasingly popular, reducing the "entrance fee" to a publisher's game library to zero, but if that logic worked then PC gaming would have eclipsed the console market long ago. Instead, console gaming has grown by leaps and bounds.
it has yet to come close, and $40 or more for the simple use rights of a title has proven a questionable method to consumers, excepting MMOs, where one can justify the lack of ownership of the game with server maintenance fees and the perpetual generation of new content (though, even now there are issues with physical discs of DC Universe Online becoming coasters). It's worth noting that iPhones and HTC devices commonly feature a touchscreen as the primary input method, which cripples its gaming potential over traditional control pads (the DS and upcoming Vita include both, but most games seem developed for traditional controls). So while the smartphone may infringe on DS Store titles or games like WarioWare, it isn't likely to replace the latest Mario, Dragon Quest or Uncharted.
Unlike many critics who make similar claims to mine, I believe indie developers and the $1 market have been a huge benefit to the video game industry: it has brought more people into the culture of gaming and challenged what it means to be a "gamer" in much the same way "geek" culture has become a fad in our society. Consider it similar to what rhythm games have done for music appreciation, or what YouTube has done for film. The difference between casual and hardcore gamers used to be the difference between console and PC gamers, but as home consoles moved to CD-ROM and 32bit systems, that distinction began to dissolve. Now it's all in how seriously you take gaming. Casual gamers are less willing to shell out a lot of dough and time for the habit, not competing either for trophies or good old school bragging rights like the hardcore do. Then there's the "mid-core" who enjoy story-based games and are willing to invest the time in completing them, but don't get too competitive about it. While the casual now likely make up the majority of those who play video games, video games have become at least as profitable and culturally relevant as the film industry, without the previous social stigma applied to gaming to hold it back. It is thus fair to say that trends in game sales should decline or increase as an industry whole, and that does seem to be true outside of smartphones, leading this writer to believe that the drop in revenue for Nintendo is due in large part to the cost of traditional games in general, with casual gamers purchasing cheap alternatives to expensive titles as the rest of us weather the silent storm. As the holiday season approaches and more of the E3 titles hit the sales floor, sales will almost certainly see an increase, though a more permanent increase will likely require a more stable economic condition conducive to generating disposable income.
|Haven't I seen this before... OH WAIT|
IT'S DIFFERENT THERE'S A CAT IN IT!