Mobile and social is where customers are
A new survey from the game company PopCap and the Information Solutions Group found some interesting statistics, including:
When asked which gaming-capable device they play games on most often, 44% of mobile phone gamers chose their phones, catapulting handsets past video game consoles (21%) and computers (30%) to the top of the list.
The reasoning is fairly simple:
- Mobile games are available: Unlike consoles, customers do not have to make a conscious decision to buy a mobile phone for gaming. They already have the gaming system in their hands.
- Mobile games are cheaper: The hit Angry Birds is as cheap as 99 cents, while the average console game runs $49.95 and is rarely less than $9.99 at its cheapest.
- Mobile games are accessible: Limited buttons on a cell phone mean games have to be simple and intuitive, unlike the home consoles that sport as many as 17 buttons on their joysticks.
- Social games are available: Most Americans have access to the Internet.
- Social games are cheaper: Zynga's Farmville and nearly all other major social games are free.
- Social games are accessible: The online environment (issues with latency, etc.) makes the games simpler.
A decade ago certain video game experiences were exclusive to the home console, but advances in the social and mobile gaming platforms have changed all that. There is now less incentive for the average consumer to buy a console and, more importantly, the games that come for the console.
The past year has been particularly interesting for non-traditional gaming markets:
- Sony (SNE) itself announced the PlayStation S1, a tablet that will end up competing against Sony's very own PlayStation 3
- Computer-focused developer (and Doom creator) id Software premiered its latest game, Rage, on the iPhone before the consoles
- Nintendo (NTYDO) declared Apple (APPL) its number one competitor
- The virtual platform OnLive made console games playable on the mobile and the web
...with the launch of the streaming game service OnLive this weekend, the death of expensive consoles from Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE) and Nintendo (NTDOY) may finally be in sight.
I'm skeptical that consoles will go away entirely, but signs say their role will soon be the equivalent of the television: A living room set piece that has taken a backseat to YouTube, iTunes, and other media channels.