Two years later, everything points to the fact that knowing the threat has not helped them to avoid it: in 2011, iOS and Android video games have tripled their dominance in the US, surpassing Nintendo and Sony by capturing nearly 60% of the 3.3 billion dollars of revenue generated by portable platforms.
This relegates the big N to second place at 36% and further reduces Sony’s PSP share to an irrelevant 6%, half of what it was in 2009 when only iOS accounted for 19% of the market (Flurry’s chart shows joint data from Android and iOS but the 2009 figure only represents the former).
Without a doubt, the freemium model (offering free games by charging only for more advanced or special options that, for example, allow faster progress on them) that has revolutionized the video game industry on portable devices has a lot to do with this, but the most decisive factor has clearly been the popularization of digital distribution systems such as the App Store and the proliferation of titles with very reduced prices.
But don’t think that this change of model has been bad for the industry. Even though players are changing (Nintendo for example has recorded losses for the first time since 1981), total revenues are still increasing year after year as shown by the $3.3 billion revenue from the US market in 2010 compared to $2.5 billion.
Adapt or die. And so far only Sony seems to be on the way to doing that. While Iwata continues to refuse to bring his company’s titles to Apple devices despite pressure from investors, Sony has just expanded its development programme with the launch of the closed beta of the PlayStation Suite SDK for the creation of applications for the company’s new Vita PS and PlayStation-certified Android-based mobile devices.
As the company responsible for the study says, “The days of paying $25 or more for a game in a store can soon be over” . The base of iOS and Android devices has not only reached a critical mass but continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, attracting more and more developers. Apple with 250 million devices and Android with 190 mark a future whose shadow is beginning to be seen even in our living rooms.